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From Fear To Optimism, Muslim Students React To Trump Win

Pat Eaton-Robb
University of Connecticut student Eeman Abbasi speaks during a protest on campus against the election of Republican Donald Trump as president last week.

It’s been a week since the election, and it’s been a time of soul searching for many college students. Students protested at the University of Connecticut and at Yale, where many students chanted in response to Trump’s plans for mass deportations and a ban on Muslim refugees.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says there have been more than 300 hate crimes across the country in the past week, many of them on college campuses, but no incidents have been reported at any campus in Connecticut or on Long Island.

Over the past week, WSHU spoke with some Muslim students in the region, who say their feelings range from fear to optimism.

Maheen Qureshi, a first-year student at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, says that right after the election, she turned to something familiar for comfort.

“I have a necklace around my neck with Allah written on it, which means God. I bought it because I felt really nervous about a bio test one day. I felt stronger because I felt like God was with me, resting right on my heart.”

But the necklace that helped Qureshi with her test felt different around her neck after the election.

“I feel like if I go out, I have to stop wearing it. Because I could get attacked if I keep wearing it. And I can’t part with it. It’s become a part of me.”

At Stony Brook University on Long Island, one Muslim student says she’s not just worried for herself. She asked to be identified by her first name, Verdah.

“My Facebook news feed is filled with hate crimes. Not just Muslim women, but against black people. Against queer people. Against undocumented folks. Against the Latino community.”

Fellow Stony Brook student Fuad Faruque is a little more optimistic.

“This person is not gonna be as hateful as people expect him to be.”

Faruque is Muslim. He’s also vice president of the Stony Brook College Republicans, and he voted for Trump.

“A lot of Muslims used to be on the Republican side, from the bigotry they faced post-9/11, they’ve switched parties. I’d say to them, as a religious Muslim myself, to look at the issues. While there might be some bigotry, there’s bigotry on both sides.”

It’s been a week, and some of the students we talked to say it’s now more important than ever to get involved with causes that represent their values, however they feel about the new president-elect.

Maheen Qureshi, the Sacred Heart student, says she’s begun to see some positive things on social media that give her encouragement.

“I feel more confident now. Because I’ve seen a lot of movements to help people like me. And that’s really touching.”

And that necklace that she’s held onto for comfort – she’s stopped wearing that. Not because she’s scared. Actually, the chain broke and she hasn’t fixed it yet. She says she’s learned she can move on and be strong without it.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.