In December 2015, I woke up to the incendiary remarks about Muslims from outsider Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. As a Muslim American, I had had enough. As an actor and creator, and in an attempt to do something, I turned to satire and birthed the character of Ayesha Ali Trump, the Muslim illegitimate daughter of Donald Trump. The fictionalized Muslim Trump explained why Donald was so angry — a Muslim in his bed led to a Muslim baby in his life. It explained why he built the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City — an homage to the love and loss of a Muslim woman, Ayesha’s mother. Yes, it’s true: Trump’s megalomania often allowed him to embrace his critics, but I knew it’d be impossible for him to embrace a Muslim daughter, even a fake one, or else his supporter base would freak out and revolt.
But a lot’s happened since December: Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s the presumptive Republican nominee. And then Sunday morning, we experienced the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, perpetrated at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Against LGBTQ people. Against the Latinx community. We gathered together and mourned as a country, a community, and as a family.
We all know by now that the shooter was a guy with a Muslim name who claimed allegiance to ISIS. But, living in the United States, there are some who hold the view, bolstered by the irresponsible statements of right wing politicians, that ISIS equals Islam. When Trump decided to use the Orlando tragedy, as he has with other attacks, to his advantage, he is directly responsible for making my character Ayesha Trump, his fake Muslim illegitimate daughter, come out. Again. But this time, as myself, Fawzia Mirza, as a proud cis-gendered, Pakistani, Muslim, queer woman. These intersections of identity form the very fabric of my life, and the very essence of my American-ness, but Trump is using them as a punching bag, trying to define who I should be and how I should live, stomping all over the very essence of my intersectional existence.
Since Orlando, he’s doubled-down on his hate-speech by proposing racial and religious profiling, including surveillance of mosques and preventing Muslims from entering the country. He wasn’t clear on how such profiling would prevent a native-born American, who could just as easily be Christian, Jewish, Hindu or some other religion, but happens to be Muslim, from procuring not just any gun, but an assault rifle. Also why do we need assault rifles in this country? He obtusely refuses to lay the blame at the feet of the gun-lobby. Why bother encouraging the passing of smart gun legislation when it’s easier for him to vilify an entire population?
Profiling is not the solution. It wasn’t the solution immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, and it’s not the solution now. Holding one billion people responsible for the acts of one madman is unprecedented, unwarranted, and immoral. And, in his latest speech, he swapped the idea of all Muslims being complacent in terror attacks and using the term “radical Muslims” for ISIS differentiated from “peaceful Muslims”. Does Donald think we’re just going to forget what he said days earlier about us? Does he think that reading off a teleprompter erases his words and attacks?
One of his latest tactics is to try and engage with the LGBTQ community. Suddenly he’s proclaimed himself “a friend of the gays”, unashamedly pushing the ridiculous notion that he is more pro-gay than Hillary Clinton and that “LGBT is starting to like Donald Trump very much lately”. To quote Clinton’s Twitter account, “Yeah, no.”
In fact, he’s historically anti-LGBTQ and anti-black lives matter. Mother Jones uncovered a 1989 interview gem from NBC News where he proclaims, “I’ve said on occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today I would love to be a well-educated black because I really believe they do have an actual advantage today.” Clearly, Trump is delusional about the plight and truth of minority groups in America. And he always has been.
Donald Trump’s form of politics is actually more akin to the “Hunger Games”: quarantine the minorities and pit us against each other. The “divide and conquer” strategy’s been tried before, by the British, the French, the Dutch, among others. It didn’t work (although we’re still suffering from the effects of it). But guess what, dear Donald: We will not be colonized by you. We have to find ways to connect rather than be baited and divided. We have to unite. We have to stay united. All of us, across identity, should remember united we stand. And as both Ayesha Trump and Fawzia Mirza would say, “I’m 50 percent Muslim and 1000 percent American.”
Fawzia Mirza is a Chicago-based actor, writer, producer, and comedian, the creator of "The Muslim Trump," a satirical documentary on Donald Trump's illegitimate Muslim daughter, and a 2016 White House Champion of Change.
Requests for comment from NBC News to the Trump campaign were not returned.