It's the stuff of nightmares. After trying to convince myself all day yesterday, persuaded by many of my fellow Muslims that it could not be possible, despite my gut telling me otherwise, Donald Trump not only won the presidential election, he did so convincingly. Here is a man who wants to impose a blanket ban on my fellow Muslims across the world along with every other bigoted view he holds of women and minorities, supported by millions who carried him to the White House.
That my own mother, who shows little to no interest in politics and has never really discussed world affairs with me woke up today with a look of despair on her face upon discovering the result, made me realise that every Muslim knows that things will never be the same again. Her exasperation and disbelief are but an example of what hundreds of millions of Muslims will be feeling across the world today, complete with their own fears and anxieties. Countless questions have been racing through my mind. What effect will his election have on the conflict in Syria, the Israeli/Palestinian piece process, on Muslims living within America itself and across the pond in Europe? Will he really follow through with his ban? Already some of my worst fears are being borne out, with social media posts from Muslim women being told by their friends and families not to wear their hijabs today in America. I fear that much like the result after Brexit, bigots will face emboldened by the victory of Trump.
What makes it all the more worse is how powerless I feel in the face of the world's most powerful man. He is now free to implement the disgusting views so many found beyond the pale. I then tell myself, 'surely those around him will tame him?' I keep telling myself this, but know deep down that there is no evidence to suggest this will be the case. If he made such outlandish claims before being elected, why would he act differently now that he has won?
When it comes to addressing one of the biggest challenges we face, terrorism, I know that the extremists will gain momentum. As far as they are concerned, nothing could be better than Muslims feeling under threat and isolated from the West, a sense of alienation that they will look to capitalise on. The countless work many have done to fight radicalisation will be undone.
My bleak outlook has been compounded by the overall alienation and apathy amongst many of my fellow Muslims have towards the election, with constant posts on social media and in conversation claiming 'Trump or Clinton, it doesn't matter things aren't going to get better for us either way.' Yet I feel it matters immensely. To put it bluntly, would I rather have America led by somebody accused of messing up with their emails or by someone who says they 'love war' and proposes forcibly taking the oil from countries in the Middle East, I know whom I'd prefer.
Yet it is the more widespread apathy towards politics more generally and especially closer to him in Europe that causes me even greater fear and worry. They say that when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold. It didn't take Europe's populist far right very long; the likes of Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen were falling over themselves to congratulate trumps. The latter claimed today 'their world is collapsing, ours is being built.'
Muslims have been woefully underrepresented in both public life and politics, with turnout far lower in Europe in elections than other groups. Yet we can no longer afford to remain apathetic. If we are to prevent the likes of Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders from succeeding and stop the march of the populist far right parties which have already wielded considerable power in Austria and Germany to name just a few, then we must mobilise. We must not allow their world to be built, no matter how powerless and helpless we feel. It will be difficult for one of Europe's most marginalised and stigmatised minorities, but our liberties and freedoms are at stake. We cannot turn our back on the world now.