Muslim community members 'hurt' by presidential election

By  | 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The presidential election is just over a week away.

A lot has happened as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have fought along the campaign trail.
Many Muslims in the Sioux Falls community say their faith has been a casualty in the race for president as the candidates have linked the religion of peace to ISIS terrorists.
Muslim community members say this election cycle has been hurtful.
One group of Muslims in Sioux Falls is reaching out to the community to teach people about their religion to clear up misconceptions, but they don't think the wounds left behind from rash remarks during the campaign for president will heal overnight.
The Sioux land library was packed as people filed in to take part in a panel discussion on what it means to be Muslim.

“Shed the light and help other people understand what Islam stands for,” Mohamed Sharif explained, “We want people to view us as members of the community.”

This is an effort to balance the negative rhetoric being thrown their way by presidential candidates.

“You know it's unfortunate that it seems like every political cycle the rhetoric around fear and the target is always Muslims it seems in the last couple cycles,” Taneeza Islam said.

But they this election has been particularly bad.

“I know Donald Trump is big on trying to say "Radical Islamic Terrorism", well, that's playing into the hands of ISIS because we need to separate them outside of the pale of Muslims, so that our allies in the Muslim world feel comfortable participating in this fight against ISIS,” John Kock explained.

Trump has frequently singled out their faith, calling for a ban on Muslims entering the country.

“The fear on the one side of not knowing someone of the faith, or not knowing other immigrant communities, they don’t want ‘those’ people into this country, where there is a fear as we as Muslims where are we going to go ,” Islam explained.

But many of these community members think if elected, Trump won't be able to follow through on these campaign promises.

“I think a lot of this stuff is just in the heat of the moment of the campaign. You know, you need voters so you try to, you know, pitch it at any angle you can to get the voters that you need,” Sadaf Cassim said.

Turning their attention to Hillary Clinton, many Muslim community members have mixed emotions.

“She has been front and center about defending the right of all Americans to worship as they want to, to participate in politics, to have a voice without being singled out or discriminated against,” Kock stated.

“Honestly, Hillary isn’t a better candidate I don’t think,” Cassim expressed.

But there is one thing their sure of, the United States going into this election isn't the same country coming out.

“I do believe that he has sort of unleashed a darker side of America,” Cassim said.

“I know that my daughter for instance, she's in 7th grade, she's come home and said that you know there are people in her class who are identifying themselves as being racist and I think that has to do with the climate that we're seeing from our politicians these days,” Kock explained.

As these Muslim community members work to dispel myths about their faith, they say people will be walking away with something besides a new president come November 8th.

“I feel like that's actually the bigger danger here if he does get elected or even if he doesn’t get elected. You know the damage is done. There's people who feel yeah, I can openly be racist or I can openly show my hatred,” Cassim explained.

They say whoever is elected will have to help heal the country.

“What happens after the election, after we know what people have said and are saying? How do we heal the very open wounds that have come out of this election cycle,” Islam asked.
These Muslim community leaders say education is the most powerful tool to dispel fear and they will continue to hold panels and seminars to help teach the people about their faith.
The group says they aren't the only group that's been targeted this election season.
They also worry about the impact on Hispanics and African-Americans living in inner cities.