World Bulletin / News Desk
As voting for the presidential election got underway, Muslims used social media to share personal stories of discrimination and bigotry they experienced at the ballot box.
Khaled Beydoun, a law professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law began the campaign early Tuesday using the hashtag, #islamophobiaatpolls, because he wanted to provide Muslims with a platform to raise concerns they might encounter on Election Day.
“Much of it, obviously is the response of what’s been happening with the presidential campaign with Donald Trump using islamophobia, the fear,” Beydoun told Anadolu Agency. “That rhetoric appeared very strong.”
Twitter user Jana al-Akhras, a law student, was the first to share her voting experience using the hashtag.
“Standing in line to vote this morning – got asked how long I plan on staying in ‘our country,’” she said on the microblogging site.
The tweets have garnered a lot of attention with even the official account of Turkish Deputy Prime Minster Mehmet Simsek retweeting Akhras' tweet.
Indiana-based hijab fashion designer, Sireen, also tweeted what she went through at the ballot box. She said she was asked whether she was from India. She replied that she is an American.
The same person then asked her what “that thing” was covering her hair, referring to the head scarf Muslim women wear, or hijab, Sireen’s tweet adds.
According to Beydoun, he has also had an indirect brush with discrimination. oA hijab-wearing mother of a friend in California was once told: “Muslim go back home”.That happened after he launched the hashtag.
Asked if he expected more incidents to occur throughout the day, Beydoun said a lot could still happen as there was a long way to go before polls close later Tuesday.
“I’m not naive to think that there is not gonna be negative incidents during the day,” he added.
More than 1 million Muslims have registered to vote for this year's presidential elections, according to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). That is up from 500,000 in 2012 – placing the Muslim electorate is a position to have a markedly greater effect on the outcome.
Attacks against Muslims have increased in the last year, after Trump proposed “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in reaction to homegrown terrorism.
A CAIR survey last month found 85 percent of Muslim voters believed Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. had increased in the past year.
Only 5 percent believed it decreased and 10 percent did not provide an answer.