There is a topic I have been hesitant to write about so far, but it’s been on my mind so much I can’t not write about it.
The elections were noisey this year, and the post election conversation was so cluttered with anger, confusion, fear, etc.Hopefully what I have to say won’t add to the mess.
Everyone in Comoros seems to know we have an African American president; it’s a fact people here take a lot of pride in. It seems to make people feel connected on some level to our country. In a world more divided all the time, we must not undervalue that connection.
Considering this, it’s natural my friends and community here took a strong interest in this election. Trump’s victory has been widely discussed in Comoros, even made the front page of the local paper.
Many people have broached me in the last month, asking about Trump, his background, what kind of president he wil be, and if the rumors of his intolerance for Islam are true. They have expressed worry for their friends and family who live in America. They are thinking twice about visiting now. People are watching the news closely to see what will happen under the new leadership.
No matter what kind of policy, if any, Trump is actually planning to impliment we should be concerned that the message leaking through to this tiny country half way around the world is not one of welcome, but rather just the opposite.
Even if you could say there have been no post election repercussions for those of Muslim faith in the States, the fact that message getting through is one of fear and hate says something is very wrong.
America prides itself on religious freedom, yet the message people are receiving is this: You are welcome here and free to practice your religion as long as it doesn’t make me uncomfortable, as long as it doesn’t scare me. As long as you aren’t Muslim.
Even if you don’t think this way and don’t know anyone who actively thinks this way, it’s still the message we are sending. And it becomes our responsibility to change that message if we don’t like it.
We need to think about how that message is being sent and why. Like it or not, believe it or not, that is what people are hearing.
My heart neay broke last week when a Comorian friend asked me “Weren’t you scared to come here?”
She believed Americans feared Muslims. She believed this due to the message we are sending.
And yet dispite this, I have never felt unwelcome in this country. My friends, neighbors, co-workers, and students are all Muslim. They all know I am American and a Christian. And they all have given me full welcome into their homes, schools, villages, and lives.
No one here has ever said, “Oh, you are a Christian? I’ll be watching you to make sure you’re not dangerous.” In fact some friends have told me they are worried because I have no other Christains to pray with. My village does not try to convert me, they do not fear my religion, they accept me and my faith that is different from theirs. We respect each other.
So I can’t help but feel a little ashamed when my community believes they would not feel the same welcome if they were to visit my homeland. This is not to say they wouldn’t be welcome. I would meet them at the airport with bells on. But if the message they receive says they wouldn’t be welcome or even safe, they’ll never even make it to the airport.
No matter what your political or religious beliefs, it’s time to think about why there are certain people who no longer feel safe living in or visiting our country. It’s easy to write this off as not your responsibility, but if you are American it is your responsibility. It is your country, take part in messages it sends.