On February 24, judge Daniel Maguire upheld bail of $1 million, 20 times the usual amount, for Lauren Kirk-Coehlo, 30, charged in the January 22 vandalism of the Islamic Center, in Davis California. A video supplied by CAIR showed a woman placing strips of bacon on the mosque door, which made the vandalism a hate crime.
Local Muslims proclaimed that the act made them afraid, even in their homes. Even so, none of the fearful Muslims showed up in court to see if the accused would gain release and pose a threat to their safety. Media accounts were careful to include the post Trump ergo propter Trump back story. As the Sacramento Bee’s Steve Magagnini explained:
“Some Muslims nationwide have reported being harassed after president Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27 barring all entry into the U.S. by visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.” Following the arrest of Kirk-Coehlo, the story mounted a surge.
“Travel ban, targeting of mosques trigger mental health concerns among California Muslims,” ran the headline on a February 23 Sacramento Bee story. A mental health hotline for young Muslims has “seen a spike in calls since Donald Trump’s election,” So it was now a mental-health issue, as UC Davis student Nida Ahmed explained.
“It really takes away your focus when your identity is being targeted. That Monday I was kind of at a breaking point because of everything that was going on. I had a midterm I just couldn’t study for. I emailed my professor and had to postpone it, because I was stressed out and anxious.”
She was also talking with her therapist, explaining, “mental health is part of our spirituality; we’re supposed to take it seriously. A large part of that is being with community, coming together and having healing spaces.” The article featured two large photos of Ahmed, but that was not a first.
In August, 2014, Nida Ahmed was “Hijabi of the Month,” HOTM, on the Haute Hijab website. As she explained, “I would describe myself and my life as ever-changing. The very few constants in my life are my name, Nida Ahmed, my identity as a Pakistani-Muslim American, and my love for my family, art, and my deen (religion). I was born and raised in California, but I moved to Dubai a couple years ago, and now I am back in Sacramento and will be beginning my second year of study as an International Relations and Economics double major at the University of California, Davis.”
In Dubai, “I went to an international school and 90 percent of the students weren’t Muslim.” Nida Ahmed did not name the school or what she studied there, but explained that “art has always been a part of my life.” As the Haute Hijab site notes: “She painted the board below for the Students for Justice of Palestine mock-apartheid wall.” Ahmed’s art reveals her anti-Israel, anti-Jewish side, but her Haute Hijab account stands at odds with other statements.
KCRA television reported “UC Davis Senior Nida Ahmed has lived in the U.S. her entire life,” and mentioned nothing about Ahmed’s stint in Dubai or her self-description as a “Pakistani-Muslim American” for the Haute Hijab site.
In early February, UC Davis student Farheen Iqbal, a Muslim born in Pakistan, claimed that someone left pork tenderloin outside her apartment. Police called it a hate crime and the local ABC television report interviewed Nida Ahmed, who explained, “I was born and raised here and my dad is a U.S. veteran.” Reporter Frances Wang did not inquire where “here” might be, nor about the branch of the service in which Ahmed’s dad might have served.
In 2015 Muslims at UC Davis students yelled “Allahu Akbar” at Jewish students. Wang did not ask Ahmed if she was part of that, or about her artwork for the Students for the Justice of Palestine display. Wang did say that Ahmed is vice president of the Muslim Students Association and that “part of her leadership role on campus is to represent the Muslim community.”
The report failed to note MSA’s lineup of extremist speakers such as Hamas defender Zaid Shakir, who wants to see the United States ruled by Islamic law. MSA-UCD keynote speaker Sheikh Hamza Yusuf calls Judaism “a most racist religion,” champions convicted cop-killer Jamil Al-Amin, and charges that Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman was “unjustly tried.”
Former UC Davis MSA member Asan Akbar joined the U.S. Army and detonated a grenade amidst sleeping members of his brigade in Kuwait, killing two and wounding fifteen. Akbar had told his mother the military was persecuting him because he was a Muslim.
That remains the default position in Davis, where activists and journalists alike invoke Donald Trump as the cause of hate crimes and harmful to the mental health of Muslims. With her claim that “mental health is part of our spirituality,” former Hijabi of the Month Nida Ahmed, the Pakistani-Muslim American who lived in Dubai, could be the poster girl for the campaign, which is not without precedent.
Air traffic controllers claimed that President Ronald Reagan’s action against the PATCO union caused them to develop “emotional or mental illness” to the point that they could not do their job. The plaintiffs did not gain punitive damages but Muslims may consider that current conditions are favorable for some kind of legal action.
President Trump’s recent executive order on travel did not mention Muslims, did not include all or most Muslim countries, and was a temporary measure over “countries of concern” as designated by the past administration. Yet, Democrats such as Keith Ellison and the old-line establishment media called it a “Muslim ban” and U.S. District Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled against the executive order.
Even in 2017, with Donald Trump in the White House, one can never tell what will happen if any Muslim mental-health claim should land in court.