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Fearful and Vigilant: Muslim and Arab Americans Grapple with Rising Hate

Amid a surge in hate-motivated attacks against their communities, Arabs, Muslims, and Jews in America are speaking out about their experiences. Recent incidents have left individuals fearful, anxious, and increasingly vigilant for their safety. CNN conducted interviews with these communities to shed light on the new reality they face.

Nicole, a Muslim woman in her 40s, expressed concerns about the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the US. Despite enduring occasional comments and stares due to her hijab over the years, she worries that the hostility could escalate into violence. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has noted an “unprecedented” increase in reported anti-Arab and anti-Muslim incidents since the Hamas attack on Israel.

Abdallah Jwayyed, a Palestinian American in Cleveland, has begun carrying a concealed weapon for protection amidst rising attacks against Muslims and Arabs. Fearing vandalism or harm, Jwayyed has removed any visible items that could identify him as Muslim or Palestinian, such as his car accessories. He expressed frustration at the need to hide his identity in order to live safely in America.

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Mona, a Muslim woman in her 30s, detailed her anxiety and fear since the onset of the war and the spike in hate crimes against Muslims. She now limits her activities and avoids public gatherings to reduce the risk of being targeted. The fatal stabbing of Muslim pediatrician Dr. Talat Jehan Khan also deeply affected her, intensifying her concerns about her own safety.

Yasmeen Abou-Sayed, a Muslim woman near Washington, D.C., has chosen to become more civically engaged in response to the escalating hate. She advocates for herself and her children, calling attention to instances of Islamophobia, such as when her children’s school district failed to mention it in a statement condemning antisemitism. Abou-Sayed remains unwavering in her identity while acknowledging the need for increased vigilance.

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Amidst these testimonies, it is clear that many Muslim and Arab Americans are grappling with fear and uncertainty in the face of rising hate. They navigate daily activities with caution, alter their routines out of concern, and struggle to strike a balance between staying true to their identity and ensuring their safety.

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