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.
 «I'm a New Yorker. I'm an American citizen. And I will never be ashamed to say I am Muslim.»  - Afroza, a Bengalese New Yorker.
 «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 then the whole political spectrum needs to weigh in.»  - Hayder Al-Khoei, an Iraqi immigrant visiting the 911 Memorial with his young daughter.
 «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.»  - West African Muslim in East Harlem.
 «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.»  - Taqwah Maalem, on the Upper East Side.
 «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.»  - Zahra Usmani, a Pakistani New Yorker.
 «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.»  - Eman B Ferdi, a Palestinian New Yorker on the Q-train.
 «These days people have come to associate my Islamic dress with the bad news from the media.»  - Jabal Abdur Rahman, who converted in the '70s, on the Canal Street sidewalk.
 «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 because I do.»  - Aisha Awan, who works on a construction site on the Lower East Side.
 «People should learn about Islam for themselves, and not from the wrong media or wrong politician.»  - Hesham, an Egyptian New Yorker tells me as the Imam of Manhattan's oldest mosque vacuums the rug during an Arabic Quran lesson which Hesham is teaching.
 Hesham teaches the correct Arabic reading of the Quran to an Indian man who traveled all the way to New York City for this lesson.
 Men at prayer in the Islamic Cultural Center on Riverside Drive, the oldest Mosque on Manhattan.
 An African American Muslim performs his Wudu, or ritual pre-prayer purification.
 «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.»  - Sheik Waleed Elbaktrawish, the Imam of the biggest Mosque in Manhattan - the Islamic Cultural Center on 92nd Street.
 A man reading his Quran prior to the Jumu'ah, or Friday prayer, at the 92nd Street Mosque.
 New Yorkers from all walks of life come together to perform their Friday prayer.
 Jumu'ah or Friday Prayer at the 92nd Street mosque.
 An Iron Maiden fan performs his Jumu'ah outside in the autumn sun.
 An African American Muslim outside of the Manhattan 92nd Street.
 The West African community in Downtown Manhattan has no mosque. They perform their prayers in public, out on the sidewalks around Canal Street.
 «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.»  - Ibrahim, a Malian New Yorker, working as a Canal Street vendor.
 Ibrahim's prayer beads.
 «Our customers have always respected the fact that I pray.»  - Ahmed, a Yemeni New Yorker, working the grill inside a Fort Greene bodega.
 «'Oh, I can understand that. I can relate to that,' many people tell me when I pause the deli service for my prayer.»  Ahmed prays in the little attic above the deli grill.
 Besides hosting community children's parties, the Islamic Community Center on 53rd Street in Brooklyn is home to Muslims Giving Back.
 «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.»  - Maeen Ali, a Yemeni Brooklynite, volunteers to cook meals for the homeless. Muslims Giving Back does this every Friday and Saturday night.
 «During Ramadan, when we break fast, whatever you eat at the end of the day tastes so good. Imagine when you're homeless and then once a week you get a warm, home cooked quality meal. In the winter the homeless come up to us, and say 'Thank God for what you do.' This brings tears to my eyes.»  Homeless line up as Maeen and his colleagues of Muslims Giving Back hand out meals on 36th Street.
 «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 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 - 2016           SEE THIS SERIES ON THE BELGIAN NATIONAL NEWS WEBSITE                 
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