This presidential election season we’ve paid much attention to the anti-Muslim ideas some presidential candidates like Donald Trump spew — and rightfully so.
Most political candidates would never dare make such utterances about any other religious minority group.
Still, in the midst of the vitriol and alarming political rhetoric, an intriguing phenomenon has appeared: the emergence of American Muslim women.
And, as America heads to the polls, perhaps Muslim women are the winners in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Before you scoff, let me explain.
First, Remaz Abdelgader, a senior at George Mason University, got Bernie Sanders to address Islamophobia last November. The aspiring human rights attorney observed:
“As an American Muslim student who aspires to change this world, hearing the rhetoric that’s going on in the media makes me sick. … So to the next president of the United States, what do you think about that?”
The audience erupted in applause. In response, Sanders committed to combating Islamophobia and invited Abdelgader, who challenged stereotypes that Muslim women are silenced and submissive, to the stage.
Next, Rose Hamid attended a Trump rally in January to protest Islamophobia. In a piece she penned for CNN, the 56-year-old flight attendant explained that she was prompted by a sense of “responsibility to represent my faith and my country with clarity and dignity.”
In contrast to stereotypes depicting Muslims as violent and angry, Hamid responded to Islamophobia with a smile. When a Trump supporter asked whether she had a bomb, she simply smiled and retorted, “No, do you?”
And, when another demanded she leave, she smiled again and asked, “You don’t know me, why would you say something like that?”
More recently, at a Democratic presidential town hall in Iowa, another Muslim woman, Erum Tariq-Munir, posed a probing question about the prevailing climate of Islamophobia confronting American Muslims.