In the wake of a proposal by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to increase surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods after the Brussels terror attacks this week, Muslim communities around the United States have spoken out.
23-year-old California man Omar Ghanim said:
"I was born and raised here. I see myself as an American. You know? Everything’s the same between me and the rest of the Americans out there. There’s nothing really different about us."
Many American Muslims have complained that the Paris and San Bernardino attacks last year, in concert with the increasingly abrasive language coming from the Republicans, have increased animosity toward them, according to Yahoo News.
Ahmad Tarek Rashid Alam, publisher of the weekly Arab World newspaper, argued that Cruz is attempting to exploit Americans' fears and prejudices in order to gain votes.
"The way he talks, it could work maybe 40 years ago. But now, it’s too late. Islam is part of the country... we are already in the country, we’re part of the country whether he likes it or not."
According to Minneapolis resident Osman Ahmed, surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods "will send a message that Muslim-Americans are not a part of American society... and that’s the message that terrorism groups are willing to hear."
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump praised Cruz's plan and said he agrees with it "100 percent."
Since he made the statement, many American Muslims have taken to Twitter to show pictures of their own neighborhoods, PBS reports. Using the hashtag #MuslimNeighborhood, these users seek to show that there is little to no difference between a "Muslim neighborhood" and an "American" one.