A Muslim-American Stands Up

1 min
at 10:43 PM

President Elect Trump has said he "absolutely" believes every American Muslim should register with the government. One of his senior advisers has said that every person with a "Muslim background" should be forced to take a test and if they do not pass, be subject to deportation. I've been thinking lately about whether members of my family will have to register. Or whether I will.

I was raised in the Islamic faith by a father who only recently stopped fasting for Ramadan. I am not deeply religious but Islam permeates my blood, my culture and my values. So, I have a choice: disclaim my heritage and hide it in the shadows. Or, I could stand up, be counted and declare my fellowship with the three million other Muslims living in this country--the vast majority of whom face graver threats and have much more to lose than me. I choose the latter. I am a Muslim-American. The descriptor on one side of that hyphen does not in any way detract from the other.

If you are feeling threatened right now--perhaps because you are an immigrant, a person of color, a member of the LGBT community or a woman--I urge you to stand up and be counted too. Ignorance begets bigotry. It is very hard to hate someone or fear them--or to blame the country's ills on them--if you actually know them.

This goes both ways. Sixty million Americans voted for Donald Trump. Among them are many people that I know and love. I sincerely believe only a small minority of Trump supporters are bigots. But they still voted for a candidate who openly campaigned on hate and fear.

Mr. Trump's election is an assault on my family's dignity and security. Perhaps if people like me had reached out before the election to share these feelings the outcome would have been different. But it isn't too late. If we speak openly of our fears and fight to ensure that they are not realized, then perhaps Mr. Trump's actions will not match his rhetoric. Not because he will do the right thing, but because the People will ensure that he cannot do the wrong thing.

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With a Perspective, I'm Daniel Zaheer.

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Daniel Zaheer is a lawyer living in San Francisco.

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