A home that looks perfect for a Muslim family, until “Islamophobia” anti-Muslim sentiment rears its ugly increasingly understandable head.
Washington Post Over a long weekend of fireworks, face paint and flags, Fernando Herboso couldn’t stop thinking about the new America he encountered last week. Herboso, 58, and his brother Carlos have their own real estate agency, and they were showing a Muslim couple a sweet home in Frederick, Md., that seemed just perfect.
The neighborhood even had a clubhouse with a party room, an exercise room, tennis courts and a pool. Carlos took the couple there to check it out. Turns out, the neighborhood also had (anti-Muslim) hate.
A woman lounging at the pool took one look at his client’s hijab and said it loud and clear: “We don’t want Muslims in our clubhouse. Take that robe off your head!” she boomed.
Carlos, 44, was flummoxed. He wanted to confront the woman, but didn’t want to cause a scene. He instead went to the clubhouse manager, who was equally horrified by the outburst and apologized, frantically explaining that the woman does not represent her diverse community. (How does he know that?)
But this is not where the Herboso brothers’ story — or their shock — ends.
‘Islamophobic’ (There is nothing phobic about being afraid of Muslims) attacks and other hate crimes (mainly name-calling and graffiti) are spiking sharply in the United States, especially since Donald Trump began suggesting that America ban all Muslims. (No, it’s since Muslim terrorist attacks have come to America and are escalating all around the world)
Data from the FBI said that in past years, there have been a little more than a dozen suspected hate crimes against Muslims reported every month. (Again, mainly graffiti and the occasional pork chop thrown at a mosque)
But since the attacks in Paris and the ramp-up of American nationalist rhetoric, including Trump’s suggestion that we create a nationwide registry of Muslims, that rate has roughly tripled.
Fernando Herboso glimpsed the change in sentiment a few months ago. He was showing a different Muslim family a house, also in the Maryland suburbs. Their young daughter needed to use the bathroom. The water had been turned off at the house, so Fernando went to ask a neighbor who was outside gardening.
The woman glanced over Fernando’s shoulder, and saw the family, wearing traditional Muslim garb. She wordlessly turned her back to him, went inside her house and — click — locked the door.
“What do you tell your clients when something like this happens, when you want them to find a neighborhood that is safe and welcoming?” Herboso said. (Tell them to go back to Pakistan, Iraq, or any of 56 Muslim countries)
He posted something on a real estate agent’s forum, wondering whether others have seen an increase in such bold displays of bigotry and whether they thought it was a new division in our country sowed by Trump’s politics. What he heard back, he said, was “disheartening.”
It felt, he said, “like they were wearing masks all these years. And they just took them off.” He got private emails, too, suggesting it was fine for neighbors to want to keep Muslims off their blocks.
“Really, in this day and age, who among us would not be a bit worried about a Muslim moving into our community,” a colleague wrote to Fernando.