Saqib Hussain Javed is a 22-year-old Muslim American student who recently gained the attention of global media for protesting in three Donald Trump rallies within a week. A video of Saqib being escorted from a Trump rally after shouting “Not all Mexicans are rapists, not all Muslims are terrorists” recently went viral with over 4 million views. The now famous hair flip response to racial slurs from Trump’s supporters drew interest all over social media. Since then, more and more people have joined in his #HumanityOverHate campaign. I spoke with Saqib about this movement and the need for more political activism in the US.
Q: Salaam Saqib, peace be with you. While there are many activists protesting Donald Trump, not many have caught the attention of American media like you have. The traditional Pakistani sherwani you wore attracted many racial slurs from some of the Trump supporters and even a remark from Donald Trump himself, correct?
A: Yes, when Trump kicked me out the first time in Michigan, people around me were yelling “bye bye prince” and “get the F out of here.” As I was being escorted out, Trump commented on my hair, saying I looked like an Elvis impersonator.
The second time I got kicked out of his rallies was in Ohio. I started shouting “humanity over hate” and Trump ordered the security to kick me out. As I was being escorted out, Trump supporters were saying “there goes Elvis” and “get out of here, prince.”
Q: Now that you’ve got the media’s attention, what do you want to say to the American voters? What’s the purpose behind your protests?
A: The reason why I wore what I wore to the Trump rallies was to represent minorities of our nation. I wanted to show Trump firsthand that this is not a nation just for white Christians. Minorities are just as important and valuable as the majority.
It is not okay for him to marginalize entire races and religions and use Islamophobic tactics for political gain. He is using fear to gain votes. I want Trump’s supporters to realize that it is not acceptable for him to publicly bash minorities such as labelling all Muslims as terrorists, making ISIS the main representation of Islam, or saying that Mexico is sending in rapists.
I want them to realize that they’re being played. I want to tell them to not buy into that fear and let hate consume them. Technology has advanced so much and information about anything is easily accessible. So essentially people buying into Trump’s bigotry is ignorance by choice.
Q: Why protest? Why not be like the millions of others who see what’s happening and don’t really do anything about it? Many people have given up at this point.
A: Giving up is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. We need to be the change we want to see in the world. All this is happening because we are allowing it to happen. The government needs to be reminded that this country is run by the people and for the people. They are in power because we put them there.
Q: As American citizens, what would you say is in our power to stop Donald Trump from becoming president? How can people in other countries contribute?
A: We need to practice our right to protest, because the decision that we are making is not going to affect only us. It is going to affect other countries as well. Our foreign policy is already terrible and it’s only going to get worse.
People need to start protesting worldwide because this is a concern for everybody, not just Americans. We should educate the public about the truth of Donald Trump’s policies. He may seem like he knows what he’s doing and that he “speaks the truth” but his words are empty and fabricated.
Q: What was the atmosphere like in the Trump rallies? Were the supporters hostile towards you?
A: It was very hostile. The reason why I feel I didn’t get hit was because I made friends with the trump supporters around me before I started chanting.
Q: What did some of them say? Did they explain their reasons for supporting him?
A: A lot of them said the reason why they support him is because his policies are going to ensure their safety and that he is such a successful business man. They believe he is going to bring more money into the country, etc.
Q: Many people are concerned that even if Donald Trump doesn’t win the election, the hate he has unearthed will remain. How do you plan on countering this rise of Islamophobia?
A: You know what, I agree. Unfortunately for us we have two Trumps leading the campaign. Although Donald Trump is the loudest Islamophobe, he isn’t the only one using Islamophobic tactics for political gain. Hillary Clinton is the same.
I plan on doing conventions in schools to educate people about Islam and Islamophobia. Starting dialogue while passing out roses and water bottles, and treating people with love, compassion, empathy, and integrity. I also plan to work with organizations of different faiths to help spread peace and unity among Muslims and non-Muslims.
Q: What is the Humanity Over Hate movement about?
A: Basically it’s a reminder for people not to forget their human morals and values. Before I grasped the concept of religion, I was taught right from wrong, good from bad, and to be kind and respectful to others. Before anything we are human! We cannot lose those values just because we’re different. Three quotes that mean so much to me and that I live by are:
“Stand with the oppressed even if he is not muslim, stand against the oppressor even if he is muslim” – Prophet Muhammad
“A man is either your brother in faith or your equal in humanity” – Imam Ali
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that hate can not drive out hate only love can do that” – Martin Luther King Jr
Q: What drives you to stand against bigotry?
A: My faith, and my faith in humanity. Throughout Islamic history, one of the most significant events that took place was the battle of Karbala. Imam Hussain sacrificed himself and rebelled against the oppressive government lead by Yazid in order to fight for the freedom of the future generations. This is my inspiration. (Find out more about Hussain ibn Ali here)