Southern California Muslims react to Donald Trump

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The Islamic Center of Southern California is a crossroads of Muslim-American spiritual and social life in Los Angeles. And since Election Day, it’s also been a place where local Muslims have gathered to share their worries about the election of Donald Trump and what his presidency could mean for their community.

In Friday payer services, Imam Tariq Aquil told gathered congregants, both native born and immigrants to this country, that he understood their worries. But Aquil said Trump’s election shouldn’t intimidate them or cause them to retreat from their obligations as citizens.

“It’s still our responsibility to be active in the society and the community,” said Aquil. We still have the responsibility to go to the city council meetings, to have our input, and to do our share. And to make our contributions to a fair and just society.”

Iman Aquil also reminded the congregation about the expressions of support Muslims have received from non-Muslims in the wake of Trump’s election.

“I have never seen the outpouring and the unity and the support  of the Jewish community, the Christian community and others coming to the help of the Muslims, said Aquil.  Allah says ‘I will send you help from directions you didn’t even see.’ We are getting blessings from places we didn’t even anticipate.”

After the service, many of the Islamic Center’s congregants, like Mustafa Baha, said they were wary of Trump, but hoping for the best for their community during his presidency.

“You know, the people have spoken, they have decided that he is going to be our president, so now we need to support him,” said Baha. “If things he is doing is not right, of course we are going to fight him. Of course we are going to get involved and say, ‘this is not right, this is what we prefer you do.'”

Non-Muslims outside of the Islamic Center of Southern California gather to offer support to local Muslims worried about their security and rights  after the election of Donald Trump. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

As Muslim Americans adjust to the idea of a President Trump, civil rights leaders in their community are strategizing how best to respond to possible anti-Muslim initiatives by the future Trump Administration.

In a video conference meeting between Los Angeles and Washington D.C., the staff of the Muslim American Public Affairs Council, or MPAC, talked about how to cultivate political and grassroots support for Muslims during a Trump Administration.

Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC’s executive director, said he’s worried about what might happen in the years ahead if the Muslim American community doesn’t start preparing to defend its rights.

“I don’t think internment camps are out of the question,” said Al-Marayati. “It just takes one catastrophic event to unleash the fear and hysteria from the public and having the federal government do something that drastic.”

Salam Al-Marayti of the Muslim Public Affairs Council says that since Election Day he and his staff have been looking for ways to defend the rights of Muslim Americans during a Trump presidency. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Al-Marayti’s concerns were heightened when a prominent Trump supporter recently spoke about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II as a possible precedent when it came to Muslims in this country.

Al-Marayati said if the Trump Administration does target American Muslims in a constitutionally questionable way, he’d expect cities like Los Angeles, with large Muslim populations, to not cooperate with federal authorities.

“I think any kind of broad brushing of our community, anything having to do with a loyalty test against our community, any kind of deportations, de-naturalization that is targeting our community, I want this city and other major cities to uphold the Constitution,” said Al-Marayati.