On the Road to DC: Washington, DC — On the day of Trump’s inauguration, we met two American university students, both Muslim. They’d been at the inauguration all day holding signs saying “Muslims for Peace,” and inviting passersby to stop and chat. We spoke with one, Sarmad, a 21-year-old from Centerville, Virginia. Here are edited excerpts:
Tell us a little about the responses you’ve been getting today.
“It’s been great so far. We’ve had a majority of positive interactions with everybody—handshakes, fist bumps, high fives, hugs—from both Trump supporters and non-Trump supporters. It’s been amazing. People have come up to interview us, to ask us questions. It’s been awesome. There’ve been a couple of negatives, but we drain that out, and move on.
“We want to tell people that this is who we really are. We actually do care about and love our country. I like eating fried chicken. I love drinking Starbucks. That’s me. I’m American!
“So many religious imams, extremist imams, they’re corrupting the government and they’re not showing the real Islam. The real Islam is diversity and taking care of everybody and loving everybody. That’s what it is.”
How did you feel about what Trump said in his speech about Islam?
“All we want to do is just spread our message, you know, maybe, hopefully we can even get in contact with him. Maybe we can talk to him too, since we’re so close—we’re only 45 minutes away. All we want to do is maybe educate him… That’s why we’re here. We’re here to spread education, spread the message.”