In Part Three of the Presidential Campaign Series, Karibu News spoke to a local activist, Julie Algibani, regarding much of the Presidential campaign rhetoric that has focused on Muslims.
Karibu News: First, do you have a response to some of the ideas proposed that have involved Muslims, such as banning Syrian refugees or creating a registry for Muslims?
Julie Algibani: It’s absolutely ludicrous. Donald Trump shouldn’t even be running in the presidential campaign. Anyone with that mindset; that hatred, shouldn’t be allowed to run. That’s not what we stand for and it’s no different from when he wanted to block Mexicans from coming in. It goes from one group to another. The man is a very hateful person and he would be very harmful to our country.
Do you think this rhetoric is going to galvanize many Muslims to come out and vote, or do you think this could potentially intimidate people?
My response to people is, although this is frustrating and angering, use this opportunity to get out there and vote. When you let someone like that consume your voice, things are never going to change. Use this as an opportunity to make sure your voice is heard with as many people as possible, and come out and vote.
Why do you think someone like Trump is making hateful statements like this? Why does he feel so emboldened?
First of all, I don’t think any of what he’s saying is bold, I think it’s idiotic. He’s making statements that have no basis. What he’s saying is tying into the fear factor in America right now. So, instead of focusing on the issues that would address Americans as a whole, he’s picking on these specific things, so people get distracted. No one is focused on the actual issues. To me, he’s a distraction, and a very good one at that.
Do you have any worries that his rhetoric can actually exacerbate fears?
Absolutely. So what I understand is that there’s a huge population in our country that is very misinformed, that has taken into consideration all the views of the media, and they don’t research anything a step further and start looking into these things and have a conversation.
We spend a lot of time talking about freedom of speech, but as Americans, all we’re using that for is to smear hate. We’re not using that to embrace conversation. I mean look at our country and the amount of resources we have to be able to educate ourselves and potentially tap into the truth, but people aren’t doing it.
So, I think it’s a real danger, when people are following along and are not doing the research.
Are you hopeful that this may actually be an opportunity in disguise to have an open dialogue towards understanding these differences?
That’s hard to say, to be honest. I pray a lot about the status of this country and the direction that we’re going. What I’ve seen here locally is that a lot of the interfaith effort has really stepped up. At the mosque I go to every Friday, I’ve never seen someone from another faith come in to speak to the members of the mosque, and I saw that last Friday. It brought tears to my eyes. As someone that works in the community and pushes these issues, it was good to see these things happening.
We had a Rabbi who came in and said, ‘look we want you to know you’re not alone in this. What hurts you hurts us.’ When I see instances like that, it gives me hope, and hopefully it gives others hope throughout the community.
For local Muslims, are there issues you think are important and need to be addressed?
Like I said, I think race is an issue, I think all of these other issues that have been sidelined, such as the ‘fight for fifteen’ by fast food works. If you look at the number of people in poverty, this [wage increase] would greatly help them. I think this resonates with a lot of populations. We’re all Americans, we all need jobs. I look at our community as I would any other person, and they face the exact same issues.
One of the biggest lies out there is that these refugee families are coming in to take benefits, and ‘handouts.’ I’m not sure that people are aware of what that looks like but there’s quite a few people that can’t actually live on what they give. You can barely feed your family on what they give you.
The next president has to address poverty, the lack of jobs and close the gap between revitalizing a city while not addressing unemployment for all of those citizens residing in that city. The three to five issues would be poverty, job training, education, race and transportation.