American Muslims are seen as either idealized citizens—such as the Gold Star parents, the Khans—or demonized extremists. This dichotomy was brought to the forefront of the election when Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” and the Clinton campaign utilized the narrative of the Khan family to emphasize the ‘Americanness’ of Muslims.
In the last year, there has been a spike of hate crimes against Muslims in America and 35 mosques have been attacked.
When I first arrived to the US, my attempt to become invisible was unsuccessful. As someone who was not particularly religious, my experiences throughout the US constantly reminded me of my ‘Muslimness’ and ‘Arabness.’ Whether I liked it or not, in the American collective mind, I belonged to a larger group that I wasn’t particularly aware of. I became a walking image of a preconceived group that I never thought I belonged to. This forced identity sparked a religious and personal journey through these communities that I recently became a part of.