“We survived a world war, we survived the Iran hostage crisis, we survived 9/11,” says Hassan Igram. “But this situation is a little different.” Mr. Igram lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the debate over ‘life under Trump’ has taken on even more significance for Islam is deeply ingrained in the city’s history. Mr. Igram’s own grandfather was one of the founders of the Mother Mosque of America, the longest standing mosque in North America and is a state landmark. The community dates to the early 1900s, when small groups of Muslims immigrated from what is now Lebanon and relocated to the area.
Over the weekend, at Cedar Rapids’ Islamic center, families attended an event led by Ali, a psychology doctoral student at the University of Iowa, titled “Raising a Family in the Times of Fear.” Many attending wondered how much President Trump would be like candidate Trump when it comes to Muslims.
Here are a few perspectives from those attending the event:
“If we want to see a change of the attitude of the non-Muslims about the Muslims in Iowa, it will not happen with us staying in our homes, within our cubicles at work or within this masjid. The only way that it will work is if we go out. Allah has chosen for us to live within America for a purpose. Until we fulfill that, that stigma of Muslims are scary people will not go away,” says Hala Azmeh, a 47-year-old Syrian American schoolteacher who runs the mosque’s education committee.
“I have the fear and anxiety of walking down the street,” says Noor Azmeh (who wears the hijab). “But there are so many people are out there who are so nice to us. Me and my mom have been in the store and there are random people who just stare at us, and they’ll find a way to somehow just come to say hi to us. They’ll ask us how we are doing. It happens at Wal-Mart; it happens wherever you go.”
Indeed the day after the election, someone left a fruit basket at the Mother Mosque with a note addressed to the worshippers: “You are loved. Our country is stronger & better with you in it. Do not live in fear, there are loving people all around you!”