In 2015, the Texas state capitol in Austin hosted its biennial Muslim Capitol Day, an earnest day of civic participation where students of Islamic faith voice their thoughts and concerns with state leaders.
The event began in 2003, and has been a successful and educational experience for both the students and the legislators. But in 2015, the event met trouble.
About two dozen protesters showed up at the Capitol to show their opposition towards Islam. One of them vehemently stormed the stage and stole the microphone from a student to declare that Islam would never become the dominant faith in the United States.
It was a sad display in what was designed to be a positive day of student engagement in government.
So, given the disturbance from two years ago, and the anti-Islamic rhetoric and actions endorsed by our newly elected president, it’s only natural that the Muslim leaders who organize the event were deeply worried about how the 2017 Muslim Capital Day would proceed.
The event happened on Tuesday, and some protesters did indeed show up, but they were completely drowned out by the more than 1,000 people who showed to form a human shield around the Muslim students to protect them and show their support.
As the event came to a close, one of the organizers actually told the crowd she was thankful for Donald Trump for motivating people to be there on that day, which she said surely would not have happened otherwise.
These are the unintended consequences of Donald Trump’s divisive actions. He is bringing people together against the ideologies that he is promoting, and in many ways, strengthening the innate human bond between one another – while at the same time, creating religious tolerance.
Still not convinced? Last Friday, around the same time Donald Trump was signing his controversial, possibly unlawful ban on refugees and immigrants from certain countries, a mosque in Victoria, Texas was burned to the ground.
Members of the Islamic Center of Victoria showed up at the scene to see their sanctuary ablaze. Many joined together to pray. The following morning, they conducted their morning prayer outside, next to the ashen remains of their fallen mosque.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Yes, this is a terrible story, and you’re probably wondering why I brought it up. Well, it’s because a GoFundMe page has raised more than $1 million to rebuild the mosque.
And that’s only part of it: four churches and a synagogue have offered their buildings to the Islamic Center’s members to use for prayer.
And bear in mind, this is all in Texas, a state that most people around the country see as not the most ethnically diverse or religious tolerant. But their citizens sure showed us wrong.
Muslims feel understandably isolated in a post-Donald Trump world, and it’s not hard to understand why. In Canada, a shooting at a mosque on Sunday in Quebec City by a man known to have voiced radical right-wing politics on social media killed six people.
It’s a tragedy that has shaken the country, which is typically not accustomed to such mass acts of violence like its neighbor to the south.
But, like the good people of Texas, Canadians came out in full support.
These enormous gestures of compassion in the wake hardship and tragedy show the best of us. They are seen by the entire world.
Mr. Trump, you may try to infringe on people’s basic rights, but you can never take away our humanity.
Have a good weekend.