Hunter’s Muslim American Community Very Focused on This Presidential Campaign

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By Nida Ali, November 7

And the reasons should be obvious.

The unconstitutional and illegal surveillance of the Muslim community by law enforcement and the anti-Islamic vitriol in this national election cycle has been motivating Muslim students to take a more active role this year. After Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslim immigration, Muslim Americans became even more motivated.

The NYPD had undercover officers and informants spying on the Hunter campus in 2012, according to the Associated Press. Last week, U.S. Judge Charles Haight rejected a lawsuit settlement over the NYPD surveillance of Muslim Americans after the 9/11 attacks. He also suggested changes to the agreement, in an effort to strengthen protections against future unwarranted police surveillance. Haight, wrote NYPD Confidential Columnist Leoanrd Levitt, “doesn’t trust the department.” He also wrote, “Haight has distrusted the NYPD for more than a decade – ever since former Commissioner Ray Kelly and his spymaster David Cohen misled him into easing longtime strictures on the department.”

“I am constrained to conclude that the proposed role and powers of the civilian representative do not furnish sufficient protection from potential violations of the constitutional rights of those law-abiding Muslims and believers in Islam who live, move, and have their being in this city,” Haight wrote in his decision.

 

Nadia Amrani, Noureen Ahmed

Nadia Amrani, 21, bit her nails and shifted around in her black jersey dress as she recounted a disturbing altercation. Amrani and her friend, Tanha Tabassum, another student, were talking as they walked outside of the Thomas Hunter Hall Building after a quick coffee run in the gray, wet weather one morning. They had covered their hair with tightly wrapped headscarves. Suddenly, an elderly man, white, standing outside the building, cursed them. “This is what it would be like with Trump as President,” said Amrani as she crossed her legs and put one brown boot over the other as she sat on the ledge of the third-floor skywalk connecting the east and west buildings. Amrani also said that she will definitely vote, and she will vote for Hillary Clinton.

“She’s not Donald Trump” she said.

Amrani, a psychology major, expressed her dread of a Trump presidency as she pulled out three small fliers from her red leather bag with the presidential candidates’ faces on them. “I would be scared if Trump won,” Amrani said. She wasn’t happy about her decision to vote for Clinton “I don’t want to take part in her terrible foreign policy that leads to the killing of many Muslims around the world, particularly her support of Israel and its security,” she said.

Noureen Ahmed, 22, a resident of Queens, pushed her large black frame glasses further back onto her black headscarf as she said she’d be voting for “either Hillary or an independent party candidate. Trump is not an option.”

Yet, Ahmed also expressed her reluctance to vote for Clinton. “As a Muslim,” she said, as she shuffled her feet on the dusty black floor of the third-floor campus skywalk, “I feel hesitant to vote for someone whose past foreign policies lead to multiple Muslim deaths around the world. Her support of American militarism in the Middle east is scary to me.” She, however, made it clear that her parents want to vote for Clinton because “she supports Muslims at home.”

 

The Hunter campus is alive with political discourse.

The Hunter campus is alive with political discourse.

 

Sarika Antora, Iqra Rehman

On the same dusty skywalk floor, Sarika Antora, a Hunter graduate psychology student, dipped a slice of cheese pizza in ranch dressing as she explained her support for Clinton. “I’ve been sure that I would vote for Hillary since before the primaries,” she said, because “she’s a great candidate with sound economic policies.” Antora has majored in psychology and minored in human rights, and she is very concerned about domestic policies. She also said that Clinton would maintain the legacy of the Obama administration. “We’re not going to be changing any time soon, and if we do, we won’t change for the better because we aren’t ready for change in terms of economic policies and foreign policies,” she said.

“Her foreign policy sucks but I don’t think it’s valid to call her out on it because Obama has been following it for years,” she said. Regarding Donald Trump, she waved her hand and sneered, “Trump is insane, and he’s not going to bring us up in any policy. Nothing will improve.”

Zoe de’Oliveira, 23, a psychology major, who recently converted to Islam, said she would vote but that she didn’t like Clinton or Trump. Wearing a denim button down and black leggings, she played around with a brown beaded necklace around her neck as she said, “I’m probably going to vote for Hillary.” But she also said that Clinton may be “a hidden Trump.”

Millions of Muslim Americans have registered to vote. Muslim Americans voters may be influential in states with a large populations of registered Muslim Americans, according to a Washington Post article.  Florida’s 170,000 Muslim Americans could very well be a critical factor in determining who carries this battleground state, according to a PBS news article.

But the opinions of Muslims unable to vote still reflect the common sentiment in the community. Adrian Flannigan, 23, a resident of Far Rockaway, Queens, a biology major who graduated in June, 2015, said, “If I could vote, I would opt out. I would not vote on principle.” Flannigan, a convert from Jamaica, interviewed in the hallway where the Muslim Student Association Club is located, came to the United States at the age of 13. “Trump is both incompetent and dangerous for Muslim-Americans,” said Flannigan who is studying physical therapy. “He’s ill-tempered and that’s not conducive for a presidency.”

His opinion on Clinton was not much better, although he did say that she was “capable” but “her foreign policy is hawkish. She vehemently supports Israel which I view as aiding genocide and her foundation is a source of complaint amongst Haitians for exploitation of resources. I do not trust her positions on issues as she seems to fall back on her words often.”

Iqra Rehman, an accounting and human rights major, immigrated 10 years ago from Pakistan and is not an American citizen. “If I could vote, I would vote for Hillary even though, I hate the lady and her views,” said Rehman, 20, sitting on a on the desk of the third floor student cafeteria. Rehman said she disliked Clinton’s foreign policy. “She supported the war in Iraq, the genocide of many Iraqi and Afghani civilians. And she supports all the drone killings in Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, etcetera,” said Rehman, who also said, “She has so much blood on her hands.”

Regarding Trump, she said, “His participation in this presidential race screams white, male privilege and has allowed a safe space for bigots to blatantly express their racism and hatred towards the minorities in the country. He’s making Islamophobia worse with his anti-Islam rhetoric.”

 

Nida Ali can be reached at Nida.Ali39@myhunter.cuny.edu