Comedian Aziz Ansari has spoken out about what he labels the “vitriolic and hate-filled rhetoric” perpetuated by presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump against Muslim Americans.
In an essay written for the New York Times, the Master of None actor and co-creator opened up about the fear he feels on behalf of his Muslim American family and friends, especially after Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration into the United States. “Today, with the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and others like him spewing hate speech, prejudice is reaching new levels,” Ansari wrote. “It’s visceral, and scary, and it affects how people live, work and pray. It makes me afraid for my family. It also makes no sense.”
Ansari also wrote about how, after a gunman professing ties to ISIS killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida nightclub earlier this month, he was fearful for the safety of his parents, who are Muslim immigrants, and he urged his mother to stay away from mosques. “I realized how awful it was to tell an American citizen to be careful about how she worshiped,” Ansari wrote.
He criticized Trump’s comments linking Muslims to terrorism as “implying that millions of innocent people are somehow complicit in awful attacks,” and pointed out that “the overwhelming number of Muslim Americans have as much in common with that monster in Orlando as any white person has with any of the white terrorists who shoot up movie theaters or schools or abortion clinics.”
To conclude his piece, Ansari wrote about his experience at New York University back in 2001 during the Sept. 11 attacks, in response to Trump’s claims that Muslims in New Jersey were celebrating as the Twin Towers fell.
“My building was close enough that it shook upon impact. I was scared for my life as my fellow students and I trekked the panicked streets of Manhattan,” Ansari recalled. “There was absolutely no cheering. Only sadness, horror, and fear. Mr. Trump, in response to the attack in Orlando, began a tweet with these words: ‘Appreciate the congratulations.’ It appears that day he was the one who was celebrating after an attack.”
Last year, in the wake of the terrorist attack on Paris, Trump announced his plans to enact a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” if he were elected president.
“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine,” Trump said in a statement. “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
In a speech given after the Orlando shooting, Trump reiterated his desire to prevent Muslim immigration, and erroneously claimed the shooter, Omar Mateen, was born in Afghanistan (Mateen was born in New York).
Donald Trump’s campaign declined to comment on Ansari’s essay. Read the full piece in The New York Times.