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Muslim American leaders to Trump: 'Ensure our collective safety and security'

File: Muslim men pray in the mosque during a prayer vigil at Baitul Hameed Mosque on Dec. 3, 2015 in Chino.
File: Muslim men pray in the mosque during a prayer vigil at Baitul Hameed Mosque on Dec. 3, 2015 in Chino.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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This week, 300 Muslim leaders from across the country issued an open letter to Donald Trump. The letter expresses concerns about policies that the president-elect proposed during the campaign, some of his cabinet appointments, and the spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes. 

For more, Take Two's Alex Cohen spoke with Edina Lekovic of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.


The voices behind the letter:

The letter was instigated by a consultative group of about a dozen national Muslim organizations and organizers, unprecedented in and of itself to get organizations to coordinate. But the 300 plus people who have signed onto the letter represent leaders from small local mosques, to national advocacy groups, to academic leaders, to religious scholars, to entrepreneurs, to former NFL football player, Husain Abdullah, and many others. And they come from red states and blue states. They include Americans who are Muslim and who are also African American and Latino, women, religious and secular. They all share a fundamental belief in the equality of all Americans and are really alarmed in this transition period to our new president-elect. 

The rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes:

It's the volume of the incidents that's truly alarming. We, since the election, have heard stories about Muslim women having their scarves ripped off on college campuses. A New York Police Department officer who wears hijab herself was assaulted in the subway just over this past weekend. There have been countless stories. But some of those most under reported include stories of our children in public schools. According to a report issued last year, half of Muslim students in California public schools reported some kind of bullying. And a fifth of those who got bullied said it came from a teacher or administrator. 

Muslims' contributions to the U.S.:

We are starting from a point where we're assuming that President-Elect Trump clearly doesn't know our community. If he did, we do not believe he would be saying the things that he is saying, at least with some authenticity. American Muslims are among the most highly educated, have the lowest crime rates, the highest levels of entrepreneurship, and have the highest level of women's educational attainment of any faith community in our country. We have contributed not just as physicians and as business owners but also as the designer of the Chicago Tower.... The owner of the Panthers is a Muslim. The owner of Ethan Allen furniture is a Muslim. The owner of Chobani, the Greek yogurt, is a Muslim refugee. These are all people who by their Muslim-ness have contributed to the greatness of America. And it's critical that our president-elect see us for who we are.

Hope for a response: 

We hope that the president-elect will take a more serious view of the American Muslim community. That he'll take a deeper, closer look at who we are and that he will hopefully reach out with a different course. At this point in time, it was a strategic decision not to ask for a meeting because 300 leaders have not been able to reach consensus about whether they're ready to meet with the new president. So, this is a first effort in an introduction in making clear who we are, what we care about, and that the constitution is the most important document to us as Americans. And we expect that President-Elect Trump will uphold that constitution and protect American Muslims as well as all Americans right now. 

*Quotes edited for clarity. 

To hear the full interview, click on the Blue Arrow above.