Dear Donald

For the first time ever, I am scared to go home.

I was raised in the suburbs of Orange County, and I love my little city as one can only love one’s own home. I love the long road leading to my high school, the one where I learned to drive. I love the boba place right off the freeway where my friends and I spent countless nights making memories and growing up. I love the tree-lined streets, the peaceful buzz of the growing city. I love the feeling of safety and familiarity.

Why, then, am I scared to go home?

I am no one special. I am a college student. I am fascinated by people and I love learning. In my free time I ride horses and run on the beach and I write long stories. I am someone’s best friend and someone’s roommate. I am someone’s little sister and someone’s daughter. I am someone’s colleague, someone’s team captain, someone’s student.

I don’t have a criminal record. I don’t have any enemies. I don’t hate anyone. My only crime are the words that my mother lovingly taught me so long ago, before I ever realized what they even meant; before I knew how significant they would become:

La illaha illallah, Muhammad rasul Allah.

I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

For me, religion has never been black and white. I never believed that Islam is clear cut and simple. Every person has the right and ability to interpret their belief system in their own way because religion is intimate and emotional.

Islam to me centers around faith. Faith in God, and in community. Faith in the idea that good will prevail over evil and that love and peace and acceptance will overcome hatred and fear every time. My Islam is the strength to overcome pain, to grow from suffering. My Islam is random acts of kindness. It is my values, my love for my family and my loyalty to my community. It is my pride in my heritage and in myself. My Islam has inspired my passion for non-profit work and my desire to help others; it is my reminder to count my blessings and to stay humble and modest in my success and noble in my failure.

My Islam may not be right for you, but I am not asking you to embrace it. I am asking you, as a politician and a powerful man, to accept it and to protect my right to practice it. I am asking you to remember that no matter whether or not I choose to wear a hijab or to pray five times a day and to fast in the month of Ramadan, this country is built on allowing me to make those decisions without interference from the government or other citizens. That is why my parents believed in the American Dream, why they worked so hard to build a life here for me and my siblings. I am telling you that, as a citizen of this country, if you were ever to become President, it would be your fundamental duty to protect that right for me and for my friends and my family and every other individual who calls this country home, Muslim or non Muslim.

I am not scared of terrorists. Terrorists are a threat to our physical security, yes, but that threat pales in comparison to the threat that you pose. Donald, when you tell your national audience of thousands of individuals, many of whom have little education or exposure to people unlike themselves, that people like me are full of hatred and that we should be banned from this country it absolutely terrifies me.

I am lucky. I live in California on a college campus; I am surrounded by generally well-informed and open-minded people who understand that acts of terrorism have literally no connection to me. I fear most for my twin brother in rural Pennsylvania whose brown skin and dark beard ensure that he is always “randomly selected” and regarded with caution. I fear for my big sister, whose ignorant friends have “jokingly” called her a terrorist. I fear for my innocent little brother who will one day realize that people treat him differently because he is Pakistani-American, not just American. I fear for my best friend who chooses to cover her hair despite being faced with harassment and judgmental glares.

Don’t you see, Donald, that the threat you pose to all of us, to America as a nation, is so much greater than any physical threat ever could be? Don’t you see that these words condemning me and so many of my friends and family and fellow citizens, when received by people who don’t know any better, who have never tried to understand the values of Islam, or met a Muslim person, are the basis for hatred and stereotypes and misconceptions?

Your calls for a ban of innocent refugees, for the closure of mosques, and, most recently, for the ban of all Muslims from entering the United States were amusing at first, in all honesty. I know that there is no way that any of those policies could ever be implemented. But then I realized that these words do, in fact, have an impact. They shape people’s perceptions of Islam and of Muslims and of me.

They are the reason I am scared to fly to Pakistan to see my parents this winter break and then to come back home; scared that I will be stopped or questioned or judged or worse. By changing the way people view me, you are taking away my sense of security and belonging. You are taking away my home.

This is not some abstract political issue, Donald. This is real and personal. It is close to my heart and makes me, as a proud American and a valuable contributor to my society, feel personally victimized. It makes me sad and hurt and anxious. In the midst of finals week when I, just like every other college student in the country, should be looking forward to seeing the people I love most in the world after six months, it makes me scared.

Before I was anything, or anyone, I was Muslim. As a young girl I memorized the words of the Quran and I recited them every morning because my mother told me they would keep me safe. I prayed for happiness and health, for my family and for my friends and for my home.

After I grew up and learned about other people and religions and myself, I again chose to be Muslim. Your words may frighten and frustrate and confuse me, but your hate will not deter me. My Islam, my unwavering faith in the strength of good over evil, of community over factions, and of love and peace and unity again and again and again over hatred and fear remains true and strong.

I have no ill wishes for you, Donald. I hope only that you understand what I was taught in Sunday School so long ago — that we are greater together as a united community than we can ever be as individuals. Driving people apart and instilling fear and hatred is not the way to fight terrorism. Pushing Americans like me away and robbing us of our sense of belonging will help nobody and harm everybody.

Photo Credit: Donald Trump via photopin (license)


  1. “scared that I will be stopped or questioned or judged or worse” Can you please elaborate on “worse” here.
    While I believe Donald Trump is an extremely racist and unfortunately represents a large amount of people in America, I really don’t believe your fears are justified. Statistically speaking, you should be more scared about the car ride to and from the airport. Or from what I have read in the new about Pakistan over the past decade, just being a girl there at night.

    • Aleena Karamally December 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      My physical safety is a completely separate issue, that is not what I am referring to. What I am scared of is how his words affect the way Americans think. I am afraid of being judged by people who don’t know me, I am afraid that fellow travelers or TSA agents or even my friends will expect me to justify or make excuses for my religion or who I am. To me that threat is so much more real than any physical threat.

    • “I am afraid that fellow travelers or TSA agents or even my friends will expect me to justify or make excuses for my religion …. so much more real than any physical threat”
      I see where our opinions differ. Thanks for responding.

    • So let me get this straight. You live in Orange County, CA, you’re on the UCSD equestrian team, and you go to a top university in California. You’re a Muslim that lives a life of privilege in the US. We have welcomed you and your family into our country and you have been able to prosper. And after all the nice things America has allowed you and your family to achieve, you’re worried about people giving you bad looks at the airport? Instead of condemning those Muslims who took the lives of 14 people in San Bernadino and injuring many more, you choose to complain?

    • Aleena Karamally December 9, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      I am extremely thankful for all that I have in life. My point is that I am the ‘we’ that you’re referring to. I am American in the same way that you are. This is my home. I am not worried about “people giving me bad looks,” I am worried about how Trump’s proposals tear apart Americans as a people. I am worried about how his words instill fear in people who don’t understand my Islam, which leads to entirely false stereotypes. I am worried about how these stereotypes and misconceptions and this hatred robs people, like myself, of the feeling of belonging in their own homes.

      I feel for the people and the families of the people who lost their lives in San Bernardino in the same exact way that you do. However, it is not my duty to condemn their actions. I have clearly explained in this article what Islam means to me, and according to me there is no place for violence or hatred in Islam. Just because they choose to call themselves Muslims does not mean that I have any sort of connection to them.

    • So you won’t condemn these killers?

    • Hey Drej, can you condemn all the mass shooters that are your religion just so we know you don’t support them?

    • You seriously don’t think it’s possible she harbors good will towards the San Bernadino killers. There are Muslims at our very own campus that are happy about it!

    • No I don’t think she does because she appears to be a decent human being and has not shown anything to the contrary. The only reason you think she might be is because she is muslim and it just so happens that some people who “claim” to be muslim support it. If a self proclaimed catholic or jew came out in support of the shootings, would all catholics and jews have to come out and publicly denounce the shooting?

    • If Catholics and Jews were trying to kill us because our way of life is contrary to their religion, then yes. By the way, how hard is it to say you condemn something?

    • So I could go out and a commit a crime and claim that I was jewish and all jews would have to explicitly denounce me just because I said I was jewish? If this is the case, everyone from every religion would have to constantly explicitly denounce any form of violence that was committed by someone of their religion. That obviously does not happen, so i’m afraid that leaves us at a dead end.

    • I asked her explicitly if she condemns the San Bernadino killers. She (similar to the girl in the video I posted) refused to condemn them. That doesn’t seem the least bit suspicious to you? Why can’t she just say “Yes I condemn them” or “Yes they are bad people”? ESPECIALLY since I asked her a point blank question.

    • Lack of a negative does not equal a positive. Just because she does not directly say she condemns the shooters does not mean she supports them. She even said that she does not condone violence which directly implies she does not condone the shooters. That was very clear. Don’t get upset just because she did not say the specific words you wanted her to say.

    • She won’t say she condemns them! There’s no getting around it.

    • She doesn’t need to. It’s implied.

    • That she can still say it. Why can’t she say it?

    • I think Aleena is not directly replying to your question about the shooters because her article has nothing to do with the mass shootings that have occurred recently. Rather, she is directly addressing Mr. Trump and explaining how his hurtful (and largely misinformed) words can influence the opinions of thousands of non-Muslim Americans– ultimately causing a lot more societal damage and tearing the American people apart. The article has nothing to do with any acts of terror committed by any particular group of people or Aleena’s opinions regarding the attacks. Perhaps you should consider reading her article again as you clearly misunderstood the intention the first time around.

    • i believe she said her parents came here, had her, worked hard. sounds like wise parents to me. probably saved for their kid’s college. and??? and YOUR ancestry is? Drej?? wow.. unless you are Native American, your words don’t mean much. Sounds like you are jealous your parents didn’t think ahead and send you to a good college.. i don’t know, but Aleena was simply stating her fears about grouping ALL people into a horrid category by hate and ignorance.

    • I go to UCSD and I am also from Orange Country.

    • Ok so let ME get this straight Drej. You’re an ethnocentric asshole that groups all Muslims together. Obviously there are radicals in every religion and that’s just a fact of the modern world. It is so incredibly racist of you to clump all Muslims together as awful human beings who just want to perform (and in your words) “GENOCIDE”. There were many unfortunate shootings this year, most of them being WHITE males. Get your head out of your ass and shut the fuck up.

    • I never said all Muslims are awful human beings. That would be a false statement. Believe it or not I have Muslim friends. There are great people within the Muslim community. BUT WHAT I AM SAYING is there are members of the Muslim community that want to kill us, commit genocide, subjugate women, behead Americans, lash women for not wearing a Burqa, etc. WHAT I AM SAYING is something needs to be done about it! I AM SAYING this sect of the Muslim community poses a threat to Western civilization and should be condemned.

    • By the way, if you read this article you’ll find that most mass shootings are proportional between races. I think IT IS INCREDIBLY RACIST OF YOU TO SUGGEST WHITE PEOPLE ARE SOMEHOW MORE PRONE TO COMMIT MASS SHOOTINGS!!

    • So you don’t condemn mass shootings?

    • I absolutely condemn mass shootings by all races. They are terrible and we should try to prevent them as much as possible.

    • There is a great number of men who whishes Death to women. A great numbe of men who kills, rapes and hits women and Children. I expect you as a man to take responsbility of that! If you do not, I will accuse you of being a part of it. I will also post “proofs” that a majority of men rape! Proofs written or filmed by women who hate men. You are born by a woman, taught by a woman, loved by a woman and women have made sacrifices for generations so that you can work and prosper. From now on; EVERY TIME, a man shoots someone, or rapes someone, I expect you to explain over and over again to all women, that you are not a rapist and also apologize for all the pain men have cost.

    • Learn to spell.

    • Drej…by “we have welcomed…” you are referring to America as the White man’s country and that you somehow did a magnanimous act of allowing her family into the country? Does it not occur to you that, having been born and raised here, that the US is as much Aleena’s country as it is yours? Correct me if I’m wrong, but your only claim to this being your country is that your ass was born here right? Coz, by the extension of logic of your argument you should be eternally grateful to the native Americans or take your ass back to whichever corner of Europe your family came from not that long ago…if they’ll take you that is!

      I don’t even know if you are a productive member of this society yet, but going by Aleena’s credentials, she sounds like she is.

    • Yes we do a magnanimous acts everyday letting immigrants into our country who wan to come here and work hard. If I went to her home country and complained about politics, I would be killed!

    • Your claim that we are a better nation than others is the very reason that you should give space for her to voice her opinion even if you disagree with her. Also, she was born and raised here…so I don’t see how she should feel a special form of gratitude that you don’t need to have. As long as she shares a sense of patriotism and service I think she’s on even terms as a citizen!…considering there are rich white folks that areally relinquishing their citizenship on grounds of high taxation! I share your concern about the threats any for of radicalizatiomy posts to the security of our country…but not at the cost of silencing her right to voice hers. That and your gross generalization is what most people here are commenting about.

    • You must have been living under a rock, because there has been a large spike in violence towards the American Muslim community in recent years. Just because you probably have never experienced racism or racial violence yourself certainly doesn’t give you the right to discount the experiences or fear of others. Next time why don’t you turn on your brain before sitting down at your keyboard.

    • I’m sad you feel so threatened by my questioning, especially with the love the author is trying to convey to all opinions. I’m also impressed by your oracle like ability to know whether or not I have experienced racism or racial violence. Imagine if you were wrong, although I doubt you have ever been wrong in your life.

      Anyways, the author has written a piece for the PUBLIC to see and judge. Therefore I do have the right to create an opinion of it, whether it be positive or negative.

      As for your last sentance, I feel like you are bullying me. Correct me if I’m wrong oracle.

    • Dafuq doesn’t she have the right the take an opinion on how uninformed you are? If you’re too sensitive to differentiate between fact and bullying maybe you shouldn’t be on the internet. Also, don’t oracles predict the future? I don’t see how her being an oracle relates to knowing whether or not you have experienced racism or racial violence. That would be more like a god or something.

    • She lives in Orange County, CA!! How hard could her life really be? Meanwhile we have people DYING at the hands of radical Muslim extremists.

    • But as Dafuq said, more people are killed by cars. Lets stop importing cars!!!

    • So we should do nothing about these radical Muslims that want to kill us? They want to commit GENOCIDE and we’re more worried about this girl’s safe space?

    • What about the radical americans that want to kill americans? Why draw the line at muslims? There are plenty of american groups that want to commit genocide on other americans. Namely the KKK, Neo Nazis etc. There are far more of them in America than muslim extremists.

    • We should fight all forms extremism and genocide. By the way, when was the last mass shooting by the KKK?

    • And your plan of action to fight all forms of extremism and genocide is to only go after muslims because they scare you the most? Should we ignore the fact that if Trump is elected, muslim people would be at more risk for genocide and persecution than you or I are now or will ever be? That is provided you are not muslim. If you are for fighting all forms of extremism and genocide, shouldn’t you be with this article as it seeks to lessen the risk or extremism and genocide against one group while not increasing the risk for any other?

    • I am against this article because she won’t condemn the actions of those Muslims who took the lives of 14 people in San Bernadino. I am against this article because she drawing attention to micro aggressions in the wake of one of the greatest MASS SHOOTINGS in American history.

    • why should she have to come out and condemn a mass shooting? As long as she doesn’t explicitly support it, isn’t implied she condemns it? The muslim community has condemned it. Is she not part of that? The only reason you want her to say it is because she is muslim. Is it not implied as a decent human being you condemn a mass shooting?

    • Because I think it’s possible SHE DOES NOT CONDEMN THEM. Too crazy? Maybe you should watch that video I posted one more time. Another reason would be to show respect for those who died. Another reason would be to show her opposition to those Muslims within her religion that hold these extreme views.

    • Your precious video is a miserable piece of non-evidence for your misbegotten ideas. Be humble and learn–you need to listen to others and stop being an Islamophobic troll, Drej!

    • How exactly is it “non-evidence”? She supports the idea of exterminating Jews.

    • What one person says in some video clip is not evidence for the kind of massive threat that you fear so much, and it is certainly not evidence that all Muslim Student associations, including that at UCSD, are infiltrated with terrorists. People have legitimate disagreements about whether or not Israel has a right to exist in its current form. To be a critic of Israel’s human rights abuses or its illegal settlements, etc., does not make a person a terrorist or an anti-semite,

    • Condemning the MSA is like condemning all the Christian and Jewish organizations on campus. Not all Jews are violent extremist human rights violators, but some are. Not all Christians are fanatical extremist murderers, but some are. And not all Muslims are terrorists. You are dealing with very small numbers of extremists in all three cases. Please go study sociology 101 or ethnic studies or political science or history, etc., and you will learn. By any chance, Drej, are you a science, engineering or business student?

    • So because she disagrees with Israel’s politics it makes it OK for her to want to support genocide? I disagree with many parts of the Islamic religion so that makes it OK for me to want to kill all Muslims? Yes I am an engineering major and I am proud not to have been brainwashed by liberal professors like you have.

    • should we continue to do nothing with the likes of the KKK or religious white supremeists? oh. but that’s different, right?

    • We should get rid of them as well.

    • Ummm…. the Wole World is doing A LOT… good lord, its not Aleenas responsability. Maybe she won’t “condemn” because SHE IS NOT A PART OF THE JIHADISTS, just as you are not expected to condemn the KKK even if you are christian….

    • Dafuq, you know exactly what “or worse” means. Look at the beginnings of the holocaust. In 1936, you were more likely to die in a car crash than die in a concentration camp. Crazy how fast that turned around. It helps nobody to try to undermine this article just to be a contrarian. Seeing throughout history how quickly hatred towards a certain minority can escalate, her fears are very justified. For you to claim otherwise is ignorant. An opinion is always worth hearing if it has at least some foundation. Yours has literally none, therefore has no right to be heard.

    • How is Donald Trump racist? So if you want to stop ILLEGAL immigration, you’re now considered a racist?!

    • Condemn acts of violence, but do not condemn people. The act is evil.

      A person may be uneducated, oppressed, angry, or whatever. Anyone can justify any act ridiculous act for any ridiculous reason. Let’s come together and realize that an act of violence against anyone for any reason is what should be condemned.

      Therefore, if you support violent acts in response to violent acts, you are no better than the person who started it. Segregating and persecuting religion or anything else will send us back to the days when we burned people at the cross…is this what Trump wants us to turn the “land of the free” into? I think he’s just confused and doesn’t know what to do about horrible situations, he should be allowed to make mistakes and his opinion shouldn’t be condemned. Freedom of speech allows his right to say whatever he wants, even if it hurts an entire population of people. That’s what you sign up for if you live in this country. If you don’t like it – DEAL WITH IT!

      So…I guess you don’t have to condemn shit if you don’t want to. But, I think we could all agree violence, instead of people, would be a lot easier to condemn. Done.

    • Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear shit in the woods? All you have to do is read about his public statements to know that, by any mainstream definition of racism, Trump is a straight up racist.

  2. Dear Aleena,
    There is a BIG problem within the Muslim community. There are a significant number of Muslims that want to commit GENOCIDE!! (Don’t believe me? Watch the video) Sorry but I think I feel a little bit more scared than you right now.

    • David Horowitz is also an extremist. His views are not respected by anyone who is knowledgeable and not horribly biased. He wants to inspire fear and hate in order to gain attention and support for his extremist ideas. Don’t be fooled!

    • Are you crazy!? Did you not hear that girl say she supports the mass extermination of Jews!

    • I’m not saying that I “support” Hamas or Hezbollah, but when a person says that they “support Hamas,” that does not necessarily mean that they are in favor of “the mass extermination of Jews.” Horowitz has made a career out of twisting, misrepresenting and exaggerating the facts on the ground. These are complex issues and extremists like Horowitz manipulate gullible people like you, Drej, by using fear and hate to reduce complex issues to simplistic misrepresentations (note how rude and dismissive he was when that giel asked him a question–which he did not answer). And then when people ignore the complexity and believe those distortions, it becomes easier to hate and to advocate stupid violence as a backlash instead of seeking for workable solutions and ways to understand the complexity. You have become one of those polarized, misguided dupes. You are a victim of Horowitzian manipulation and propaganda. Just like many of Trump’s followers.

    • Horowitz: “I’m a Jew. The head of Hezbollah has said that he hopes that we will gather in Israel so that he will not have to hunt us down globally. For it or against it?”

      Muslim Woman: “For it.”

      She supports the GENOCIDE of Jews, plain and simple. How exactly am I being duped?

    • You are blowing up those two words by reading a lot into those two words. She may simply have meant that she is “for Hezbollah,” which does not mean that she favors genocide. Perhaps she believes that Israel was founded illegally and is an illegitimate settler nation that took land away from the rightful possessors of Palestine. You are going along with Horowitz’s over-reaction and distortion because you are predisposed to cry “genocide” at the slightest criticism of Zionist oppression or the slightest defense of militant organizations that attack and oppose that oppression. Horowitz is modelling the same kind of over-reaction to micro-aggression that you deplore in others when you don’t agree with them. But you think his obnoxious over-reaction and refusal to discuss or engage with her question is okay. Please, enroll in a political science or ethics or rhetoric course as soon as you possibly can!

    • You don’t understand how English questions work. Let me break it down.

      Horowitz: “I’m a Jew. The head of Hezbollah has said that he hopes that we will gather in Israel so that he will not have to hunt us down globally. For it or against it?”

      Muslim Woman: “For it.”

      What is she for? The gathering of Jews in Israel so Hezbollah can more easily hunt them. Hunting involves killing ( It’s the first definition in this context by the way.

      You’re so brainwashed by UCSD professors, it sickens me. TAKE AN ENGLISH SPEAKING CLASS AS SOON AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN!

    • Even if you were right (and you are not), so what? One student said such a thing one time a while ago in a video clip. Get over it! ISIS is an evil group, but they in no way represent Muslims in general. Think about how many innocent people are killed by guns, American military drones and bombs, and IDF bombs. Bombing and fearmongering and Islamophobia are exactly what groups like ISIS are hoping to provoke. You are doing just what ISIS wants you to do, Drej, by letting fear get the best of your powers of reason. Think about how state terror abroad, the terrible things done by the Americans and their allies in Iraq and elsewhere, and the proliferation of easily obtainable assault weapons in this country–think about how those things are the big, large-scale problems, the actions that help to create a terrorist backlash. And we can start to solve those problems by getting rid of every despicable, corrupt right-wing politician that supports those activities, starting with the vile and hypocritical scumbag Darryl Issa.

    • “Even if you are right…” My critical reading skills suggest to me you know I speak true about her meaning. Your ego will never let you admit it, but that’s OK.

    • No, your “critical reading skills” have failed you yet again. Your bullshit detector is broken. I just wanted to get off your obsession with that Horowitz video clip and move on to the real issues.

    • Using profanity now are we? Looks like I roughed you up a bit with the comment about being poor and brainwashed. Truth hurts.

    • cow poop? profanity? hardly. Stop dodging the real issues, Drej.

    • You used the term “bullshit” if I’m not mistaken. “Shit” is considered profanity in English.

      “Common English expletive” Expletive is a synonym for profanity.

    • Good night, Drej. You digress. One final thought: some day, when the Trump Nazis are working hard to “make America great again,” and they come for you, you may look back and realize that you were mistaken.

    • That’s all you got! You can’t give up on me now! Too easy.

    • You are a STEM biz-tech-specialist of some kind, aren’t you, Drej? You can’t write your way out of a paper bag from an Orange Count Jack-In-the-Box, can you? And you are a bona fide representative of Orange County’s longstanding conservative cloud of ignorance and fear. You are a living cliche, man!

  3. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I am sorry people seem to refuse to understand your fears. Your fears are absolutely justified. Donald Trump is just a very ugly person and the sheeple eat up his BS.. so embarrassing for our country. Stay safe. Not all of us are ignorantly paranoid about Muslims. or any other religions or peoples.. the soul is what i look at. The outside of our ‘books of life’ are just covers. Blessings..

    • People are DEAD! They would kill countless more of us if they could! Is the threat of GENOCIDAL THINKING not a problem for you?

  4. You should be more scared of being killed by Muslim terrorists in Pakistan or even here. This is a very real threat as you saw what happened in San Bernardino. These people are using your religion to commit atrocities.
    Start with condemning them before you move onto American politicians

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