SHARE FEARS, OPTIMISM
trying to ban good people from coming to this country,” Rehab continued, “people who’ve committed no crime whatsoever other than the crime of being Muslim... We will have none of it.”
The room broke into applause. The president’s efforts to institute a ban on travellers from certain Muslim-majority countries met strong response from Muslim Americans and their supporters.
But there was also fear that Islamophobia was on the rise, and that the Trump administration might target Muslims.
“There’s a real dread of what’s coming next, what’s going to happen, who will be targeted,” said Louise Cainkar, president of the Arab American Studies Association, and author of a book that examined how Arab and Muslim Americans were affected by policies following the Sept 11 attacks.
What was different, she said, was that Muslim and Arab groups had established ties with other communities, and demonstrations against Trump’s rhetoric draw a mix of people from various faiths and backgrounds.
Those listening to Rehab’s speech had mixed reactions: some concerned, others optimistic because of the sense of cooperation with outside groups.
“My kids are American citizens,” said Fraheen Hashmi, a 36-year-old pharmacist with four young children. She worried that they might grow up embarrassed of their heritage or afraid to identify as Muslim.
Zayna Saadeh was worried, too. The 59-year-old Palestinian immigrant the United States, speaking glowingly of her grandfather’s job at a lace mill in the area, where he worked as a teenager until his retirement more than 50 years later. And she told the story of her father, who “hopped a freight train” to Chicago dreaming of bigger opportunities and ended up selling textiles before serving in the Navy during World War 2.
Kingsley, who described herself has lived in the United States for 40 years.
“We’re not strangers in the US,” she said, “but that’s how we feel now.”
Advocacy groups have reported a sharp rise in hate crimes. Anti-Muslim groups nearly tripled last year, according to an annual census by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In 2015, hate crimes against Muslims increased 67 per cent, according to the FBI. Those numbers may be going up, amid increasing reports of new incidents.
Last month, an arson fire damaged a Florida mosque, and a Kansas man was accused of shooting two Indian immigrants as a Clinton supporter, said the atmosphere in the room during Clinton’s speech was “ecstatic”.
Lackawanna County, where Scranton is, voted narrowly for Clinton, 49.8 per cent to Donald Trump’s 46.3 per cent, but Trump received a significantly higher percentage of votes than the previous two Republican nominees. But his victory in Pennsylvania was the first time since whom he perceived as Middle Easterners, killing one.
This week, the Islamic Centre of Tucson reported that a vandal scattered ripped up copies of the Quran around the mosque.
But there had also been a rallying response from Muslim groups and supporters.
During his speech at the banquet hall, Rehab pointed to new allies in the room — non-Muslim lawyers who helped travellers during Trump’s ill-fated first attempt at a ban that triggered chaos at American airports until it was halted by US courts.
“My friends, you are the best of America,” he said.
Other attendees echoed that optimism.
“The best part is that the American public themselves have become very generous to us,” added Saqib Khan, a US-born lawyer of Pakistani descent. AFP 1988 the state went to a Republican presidential nominee.
The Society of Irish Women is a group founded in the 1990s because the local chapter of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, an Irish-American group founded in 1906, did not permit women at its St Patrick’s Day event, Kingsley said. (The national organisation introduced its first female members last year.) NYT
Hillary Clinton speaking at the Society of Irish Women’s annual dinner on St Patrick’s Day in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Friday.