‘We got their back’

Local residents stand with Muslim community in wake of presidential election

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Photos by Sebastian Echeverry | Signal Tribune
Local residents and city officials such as Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Signal Hill Mayor Lori Woods and LBUSD Board Member Megan Kerr gather outside a Signal Hill mosque on Friday, Nov. 18, to share messages of support to its members after a prayer service.

Nov. 8 marked a historic day for the United States. After enduring several months of zealous campaigning, the country decided who would be its 45th president that Tuesday. Although Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote nationwide, Republican candidate Donald Trump won 306 electoral college votes while the former Secretary of State secured 232.

Some witnessed their candidate win, while others were shocked and blindsided by the result.

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Long Beach Islamic Center leader Tarek Mohamed (left) addresses local residents who gathered in support of the Muslim community on Nov. 18.

Throughout his campaign, various news outlets quoted President-elect Trump with jarring comments aimed at specific ethnic groups. The Muslim community, in particular, was one of his main talking points.

To display unity with that specific community, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Signal Hill Mayor Lori Woods gathered outside a local mosque with city leaders and local residents on Friday, Nov. 18, to share messages of support to its members as they concluded a prayer service.

The parking lot outside the mosque was engulfed with supporters holding up signs that read “Love Trumps hate” and “America is for everyone.”

Garcia stood in front of the large group and shared his experiences living in the United States.
“I wasn’t born in this country,” he said. “When I came to this country, as an immigrant, as an openly gay man, as someone who didn’t speak the language, I know what it’s like to feel like a different person in a place that you consider your home.”

During the speech, the mayor quoted a recent FBI report that stated that the largest increase in hate crimes has been against Muslim-Americans.

“That is unacceptable,” he said. “That is not who we are about, and we are here today to show this community, who feels in many ways scared, and who need support, that we are here to support them. And we’re here. We got their back.”

As the members of the mosque began exiting the building to meet the large body of people that had formed outside, supporters approached them to give out flowers and hugs and introduce themselves as neighbors.

Garcia told the Signal Tribune that the hate crimes against Muslim people will not be welcomed in Long Beach and he encourages the people of Signal Hill and Long Beach to support the Muslim community.
Long Beach Islamic Center leader Tarek Mohamed said that he was very grateful for the people who came to comfort the Muslim community.

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Local supporters hold signs in support of the local Muslim community at the Long Beach Islamic Center mosque located in Signal Hill.

He explained that the community was shocked on four separate occasions: the statements that Trump made about the community, the results of the presidential election, the way the system allowed the President-elect to reach such a position and the fact that the Muslim community now has to respect Trump.

“Our community is very strong and can take all the heat from him,” Mohamed said. “As long as you see us united, we can take it from court to court, case to case, and we will protest in the street if he violates our rights.”

After the June 12 Orlando shootings, Trump said the shooter’s parents, of Muslim descent, were allowed into the country because of a “dysfunctional immigration system which does not permit us to know who we let into our country, and it does not permit us to protect our citizens properly.”

As Trump selects who will be part of his Presidential cabinet, some of his top advisors seem to have a say on the matter.

Soon-to-be chief-of-staff, Reince Priebus, told Time that his advisors were not going to create a registry system based on religion, but the idea was not going to be completely ruled out. ✦

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