Those of us who live at the intersections of vulnerable worlds are struggling.
As a queer Muslim immigrant woman from Pakistan, I was horrified to hear about the murder of a young Muslim woman in Fairfax, Virginia, as well as the attack on a mosque in London killing one person and injuring 11. Trump’s silence about the attack on the mosque speaks volumes about his hatred for Muslims. This rhetoric has fueled the rise in hate crimes, and Muslim women, especially, are experiencing the confluence of sexism and islamophobia. We need to understand these incidents as connected to a larger mechanism of islamophobia that is often disguised by other issues like LGBTQ rights and women’s rights.
Those of us who live at the intersections of vulnerable worlds are struggling. We wake up every day thinking about the safety of our families and friends. The human rights of communities of color, immigrants, women, people with disabilities, people living in poverty, and LGBTQ people are all under attack. When these groups are set against each other, we are even more vulnerable.
Hate crimes have risen 67%, according to an FBI Hate Crime Statistics report. And the number of anti-Muslim organizations in the United States has tripled, growing from 34 in 2015 to 101 in 2016, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. When Louisiana congressman Clay Higgins posted “kill them all” and Trump supporter Nigel Farage called for internment camps on “Fox and Friends,” we feared for our lives—and for the lives of our allies. In May, two people in Portland were killed while trying to protect young black women, one wearing a hijab, from harassment.
Amidst this hate-mongering, Trump continues to champion a travel ban with horrifying implications for human rights violations. His proposed executive orders push the false narrative that this administration is “protecting” the rights of LGBTQ people from Muslims, whom they excoriate for intolerance. This is ironic, given the administration’s hateful position toward the LGBTQ community.
A few months after the Pulse nightclub tragedy, the RNC held an ostensibly pro-LGBTQ party. But as Slate reported, it was, in fact, an attack on Muslims. Infamous islamaphobes, including Milo Yiannopoulos, Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, turned out, wrapping their “supportive” LGBTQ message in an islamaophobic theme. Tragically, this event foreshadowed the way this administration would use LGBTQ people as a wedge against Muslims. Nowhere has this been more clear than in Trump’s two executive orders, putting in motion the Muslim ban, justifying it in part for Islam’s persecution of LGBTQ people.
Under Trump’s watch, protections for transgender students and children have been rescinded. C-Fam, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBTQ hate group, has been included in the official U.S. delegation to the United Nation’s commission on the Status of Women, and Valerie Huber, the president of Ascend (a non-scientific, abstinence-only, anti-LGBTQ group), was named the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services.
In all of these measures, enemies of equality are hoping to pit Muslims and LGBTQ people against each other. They want to frame LGBTQ rights as anti-Muslim. We cannot let them.
More must be done by all Americans who believe in equality and human rights. Picking up a protest sign is one way to support us, but there’s a more joyful way as well. This weekend marks Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim celebration of the end of Ramadan; at the same time, Pride festivals are taking place around the country. There is no better way to show your support and make our nation stronger than to join us in celebrating the full breadth of our communities. Celebration is the best way to remind Trump supporters that our love will always trump their hate.
Urooj Arshad is a member of the steering committee of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity and the associate director of international youth health and rights at Advocates for Youth, and a Ford Foundation Public Voices Fellow at The OpEd Project.