MUSLIM IN A TRUMP STATE

 

New York City, October 2016

 

 

In the run-up to the US Presidential elections, I return to New York - Donald Trump's hometown - to engage with the Muslim community in search for their outlook on Trump.

 
A young Muslim member of the JROTC leads her class down 5th Avenue on Veteran's Day.

A young Muslim member of the JROTC leads her class down 5th Avenue on Veteran's Day.

It's a sad state of affairs when young, proud American Muslims march to the beat of their homeland's great war machine, willing to serve and defend their nation in overseas conflict, while at home they are being alienated and polarized by the man who aims to one day wield the very power to send them to war.

 
Afroza , a Bengalese New Yorker.

Afroza, a Bengalese New Yorker.

“I'm a New Yorker. I'm an American citizen. And I will never be ashamed to say I am Muslim.”

 
 
Hayder Al-Khoei , an Iraqi immigrant visiting the 911 Memorial with his young daughter.

Hayder Al-Khoei, an Iraqi immigrant visiting the 911 Memorial with his young daughter.

“The problem with Western politics is that there are always a few politicians that manage to shift the whole political discourse. They make Islamophobia a topic on which the whole political spectrum then needs to weigh in.”

 
 
West African Muslim in East Harlem.

West African Muslim in East Harlem.

“It appears to me that politicians, like Mr. Trump, don't believe we Muslims actually vote. That's why they don't care for us. Trump doesn't think he has anything to lose with his ant-Islam rhetoric.”

 
 
Taqwah Maalem , on the Upper East Side.

Taqwah Maalem, on the Upper East Side.

“But I do have the right to vote. My family roots go back to slavery. My father fought for this country in Vietnam, after which he converted to Islam. I was raised a Muslim. I am very much a part of this country. Therefor I have the right to vote.”

 
 
Zahra Usmani , a Pakistani New Yorker.

Zahra Usmani, a Pakistani New Yorker.

“I feel blessed to live as a Muslim in America. However, these days, because of my religion, I am forced to think about safety due to a rise in hate crimes against American Muslims.”

 
 
Eman B Ferdi , a Palestinian New Yorker on the Q-train.

Eman B Ferdi, a Palestinian New Yorker on the Q-train.

“Trump feeds on the media. The media works with repetition, which has a big influence on people. Just look at how all too often brown equals immigrant and black equals guilty as charged. They now repeat the concepts of terrorism and Muslim together so much that people have come to associate them.”

 
 
Jabal Abdur Rahman , who converted in the '70s, on the Canal Street sidewalk.

Jabal Abdur Rahman, who converted in the '70s, on the Canal Street sidewalk.

“These days people have come to associate my Islamic dress with the bad news from the media.”

 
 
Aisha Awan , working on a construction site on the Lower East Side.

Aisha Awan, working on a construction site on the Lower East Side.

“Hijab makes me feel scared sometimes, you know. People will look and stare. They don't understand what I have to go through when I wear it. they all assume I am forced into it. I don't judge people for not covering their bodies, so I hope they don't judge me FOR COVERING MINE.”

 
 
Men at prayer in the Islamic Cultural Center on Riverside Drive, the oldest Mosque on Manhattan.

Men at prayer in the Islamic Cultural Center on Riverside Drive, the oldest Mosque on Manhattan.

 
Hesham , an Egyptian new Yorker, teaches the correct Arabic reading of the Quran to an Indian man who traveled all the way to New York City for this lesson.

Hesham, an Egyptian new Yorker, teaches the correct Arabic reading of the Quran to an Indian man who traveled all the way to New York City for this lesson.

“People should learn about Islam for themselves, and not from the wrong media or wrong politician.”

 
 
An African American Muslim performs his Wudu, or ritual pre-prayer purification.

An African American Muslim performs his Wudu, or ritual pre-prayer purification.

 
Sheik Waleed Elbaktrawish , the Imam of the biggest Mosque in Manhattan - the Islamic Cultural Center on 92nd Street.

Sheik Waleed Elbaktrawish, the Imam of the biggest Mosque in Manhattan - the Islamic Cultural Center on 92nd Street.

“In New York you can see a big difference in the Muslims that migrated to the US, and their children who live an American lifestyle and who have adopted an American lifestyle. Ultimately Islam is about coming to a community and taking care of this community.”

The Jumu’ah, or Friday Prayer, at the 92nd Street Mosque in Manhattan—lead by  Imam Elbaktrawish .

The Jumu’ah, or Friday Prayer, at the 92nd Street Mosque in Manhattan—lead by Imam Elbaktrawish.

An Iron Maiden fan performs his Jumu'ah outside in the autumn sun, outside the 92nd Street Mosque in Manhattan.

An Iron Maiden fan performs his Jumu'ah outside in the autumn sun, outside the 92nd Street Mosque in Manhattan.

 
 
Ibrahim , a Malian New Yorker, working as a Canal Street vendor.

Ibrahim, a Malian New Yorker, working as a Canal Street vendor.

“I left Bamako for New York eighteen years ago. I've prayed here on this very side walk every day since. Five times a day. In New York nobody cares.”

 
 
Ahmed , a Yemeni New Yorker, working the grill inside a Fort Greene bodega.

Ahmed, a Yemeni New Yorker, working the grill inside a Fort Greene bodega.

“Our customers have always respected the fact that I pray.”

Ahmed  prays in the little attic above the deli grill.

Ahmed prays in the little attic above the deli grill.

“‘Oh, I can understand that. I can relate to that’, many people tell me when I pause the deli service for my prayer.”

 
 
Besides hosting community children's parties,  the Islamic Community Center on 53rd Street in Brooklyn is home to   Muslims Giving Back.

Besides hosting community children's parties, the Islamic Community Center on 53rd Street in Brooklyn is home to Muslims Giving Back.

Maeen Ali , a Yemeni Brooklynite, volunteers to cook meals for the homeless. Muslims Giving Back does this every Friday and Saturday night.

Maeen Ali, a Yemeni Brooklynite, volunteers to cook meals for the homeless. Muslims Giving Back does this every Friday and Saturday night.

“I volunteer because I don't want my kids growing up the way I did. I had no role models, no one to look up to.”

Homeless line up as  Maeen  and his colleagues of Muslims Giving Back hand out meals on 36th Street.

Homeless line up as Maeen and his colleagues of Muslims Giving Back hand out meals on 36th Street.

“In the winter the homeless come up to us, and say 'Thank God for what you do.' This brings tears to my eyes.”

 
 
© Sam Asaert - Lower Manhattan

“Some years back, after 9/11, my wife, daughter and I were denied access to an East River Ferry, because my wife was wearing hijab. My young daughter walked up to the operator and said, “Please let us on. We don't have any bombs.” It broke my heart that even as a small child, she had somehow understood that being a Muslim she would have to prove her innocence of a stereotype society had put on her.”

“We New York Muslims have worked hard to rid us of this image. It would be a very sad day when this country elects a President that actively tries to re-install these stereotypes.”

 
 
 

Text & Photographs © Sam Asaert