Hollywood — also known is “Hillarywood” since the 2016 presidential election kicked off last year — is in a state of disbelief following Donald Trump’s stunning victory over Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
But perhaps no one is feeling the election aftershock more than its Muslim community, whose despair quickly turned to crippling fear.
“I’m scared,” actor Rizwan Manji, best known for playing Rajiv in the now-canceled NBC series “Outsourced,” said, adding that he was worried for his seven-year-old daughter, who refused to believe him when he told her Trump had won.
“It’s partly my fault,” Manji said. “The things we said about Donald Trump, she has taken it all in. We can rationalize this. But a seven-year-old can not. All she’s known in her lifetime is a black president.״
The actor’s friends are already posting warnings from family members on social media, asking loved ones to refrain from wearing a hijab, a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women.
“I have a Muslim friend who is a gay,” he said. “His mother pleaded with him to shave his beard.”
Reports of violence against Muslims are already on the rise, according to Suhad Obeidi, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Hollywood Bureau, which serves as a bridge between the Muslim community and the entertainment industry. Now many in the community fear it could get worse.
“At this time, our work with allies in media, Hollywood and civil society will be more critical than ever to promote the truth that can liberate people from the shackles of xenophobia,” Obeidi said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our allies in law enforcement will be our line of defense against any threat to our community.”
She went on to tell TheWrap that Tuesday’s election shocker hit many in the Muslim community particularly hard. “There is a sense of mourning today,” she said. “It’s a very difficult pill to swallow.”
Veteran screenwriter Kamran Pasha told TheWrap he’s most worried “that when Mr. Trump is unable to fulfill his promises to his base, which he won’t, there will be anger and resentment among his supporters. The easiest way for a politician to deflect that is to find a scapegoat.”
It’s hard to say what long-term effect a Trump presidency might have on the Hollywood Muslim community, which is still licking its wounds from a divisive 20-month long campaign marked by incendiary rhetoric, much of it from the newly-minted president-elect. Though many say they are anything but surprised.
“I think there are some people in Hollywood who share Trump’s bigotry,” Pasha said.
The entertainment industry has long been accused of portraying Muslims in a negative light. The 1920s saw “The Sheik” and “The Son of the Sheik,” starring Rudolph Valentino, both of which depicted Arabs as thieves, charlatans and murderers.
Even Disney movies have been criticized for perpetuating anti-Muslim stereotypes. According to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimation Committee, “Aladdin’s” lead light-skinned characters, Aladdin and Jasmine, had “Anglicized features and Anglo-American accents,” while the swarthy dark-skinned characters included “cruel palace guards or greedy merchants with Arabic accents and grotesque facial features.”
TV shows have received many of the same criticisms. Fox’s “24,” which aired from 2001 to 2010, was often accused of stereotyping Muslims as terrorists. In ABC’s “Lost,” the character of Sayid (Naveen Andrews) was a member of the Iraqi Republican Guard who tortured people as a part of his job. And more recently, the representation of Muslims on Showtime’s “Homeland” prompted The Guardian newspaper to ask, “‘Homeland’ is brilliant drama. But does it present a crude image of Muslims?”
But Obeidi insisted that despite the shock of Tuesday’s election results, she was still “very hopeful.”
“At the end of the day, we believe in America, and the American spirit,” she said. “And even a Trump presidency can’t destroy that.”