Since US President Donald Trump came to power, Muslim Americans say they feel increasingly unwelcome in their own country. According to critics, Trump’s executive orders banning travellers from several Muslim-majority countries and his anti-Muslim rhetoric have normalised Islamophobia. FRANCE 24’s reporters went to meet members of this community in Michigan, who feel uncomfortable in Trump’s America.
Following the October 31 terrorist attack in New York, Donald Trump requested a heightened immigrant vetting programme and signalled he wants to scrap the visa lottery scheme. This response was seen by critics, including Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, as a way of politicising the attack and using it to spread hatred of immigrants and anti-Muslim sentiment.
Back in March 2016, Trump said he thinks “Islam hates us”. He has also repeated the false claim that he saw thousands of Muslim Americans cheering in New Jersey after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
This hateful rhetoric appears to be having a direct impact on Muslim Americans.
According to a recent study of FBI crime data analysed by the Pew Research Center, Muslims are more frequently assaulted in Trump’s America than they were post-9/11.
Sixty percent of Muslims reported personally experiencing religious discrimination in the past year, compared with 17 percent of the general population, according to a survey carried out by The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a think tank.
Forty-two percent also said that their children had been bullied in the previous year.
More than a third of American Muslims even say they fear for their own or their family’s safety from hate groups.
FRANCE 24’s New York correspondent Jessica Le Masurier travelled to Detroit, Michigan, with cameraman Tom Pietrasik to meet Muslim Americans and find out if their reality matches the statistics.
Parts of the city of Detroit are home to the highest concentration of Muslim Americans in the United States. The vast majority of them did not vote for Trump in November 2016, but the state of Michigan gave its Electoral College votes to the Republican billionaire.
Dearborn, Michigan is home to the United States’ largest mosque and the suburb of Hamtramck is the only place in the country where the Islamic call to prayer can be heard in the streets.
FRANCE 24’s documentary gives the seldom told Muslim American perspective on the current political climate in the United States.
This documentary is supported by the French-American Foundation immigration scholarship.