Donald Trump stirred controversy this week by retweeting videos from what British parliamentarians describe as a Neo-Nazi organization, Britain First. The films depict violence, which the group says is emblematic of Islam and Muslims everywhere. In Massachusetts, the Council on American Islamic Relations condemned Trump’s gesture and says it reduces Muslim people to caricatures. One Muslim family in Malden sat down with WGBH News to discuss how they are faring in today’s political climate.        

Nichole Mossalam is administrative director for the Malden Islamic Center. Her husband, Mohanad Mossalam, is a technology patent expert at a downtown law firm. One evening, they and their three children, ages 1, 3 and 9, sat around the dinner table discussing daycare and homework.

Like many American families these days, the Mossalams' dinner discussion also focused on politics. The politics of the moment feel very personal to the them; a U.S. president tweeting out videos and messages from anti-Muslim extremists, says Mohanad, has left them more fearful than usual.  

“People who do believe this, what do you think their reaction is going to be when they see that [tweet] from their president? They love it. And they just get excited even more and they’re going to ignore every screw up that he's doing," he said.

“You know, hate crimes are on the rise,” said Nichole. "Trump hasn't figured out that words have consequences. And you know, some new statistics have been coming out, like one of which is for Massachusetts, we have the highest hate crime per capita in the U.S. And about 50 percent of Muslim children are bullied because of their faith, which is more than twice the national average.”

The topics then turn to a recent New York Times articlethat Nicole says normalizes Neo-Nazis, and a discussion about local Malden politics and the advantages of Boston. Mohanad, a U.S. citizen, came to this country from Egypt and first settled in Salt Lake City.

“We enjoy the diversity here a lot more than Salt Lake City and the opportunities available in Boston. It's a lot more diverse and numerous than Salt Lake City," he said. 

Nichole, an Italian-American from southern California, converted from Catholicism to Islam six months before she met her husband. They’re celebrating 12 years of marriage. Over baked potatoes, broccoli and chicken they both laugh and lament the stereotype they believe many people entertain about a Muslim wife and husband.

“I'm living my life. I think that should show people that Muslims are not the stereotype that they have in their mind. I'm not, you know, a beaten wife at home who has to listen to the man and all this other stuff. If anything I'd probably browbeat my husband,” she laughed.

The couple says Nichole's Catholic family includes quite a few people who voted for Donald Trump.

“We get the people who are only nice to us, but they still hate Muslims. You know some of ... Nichole’s family members are like that," Mohanad said. "They hate Muslims. They’re not shy about it. You go on their Facebook while I'm friends with them, Nichole’s friends with them, and they're bashing Muslims every day. But yet, they’re very nice to us. Every time we visit them or call them on the phone, they're very nice.”

“I've even had one of my uncles tell me this, that ‘Oh, don't worry, you have nothing to be afraid of because you belong here,'” said Nichole.

Malden is a community where people of color and new immigrants in recent elections altered a once rock-solid conservative political establishment. But Nichole, who ran and lost an election for a seat on the school committee this year, said Muslims like her are still seeking acceptance.

“One lady, right after I knocked on her door, I left my campaign literature and started to walk away because there was no answer. Next thing I know, I hear this shrill scream behind me and I look back and this woman has my campaign literature in her hands, shredding it up in the air, screaming profanities at me: 'Don't leave this Muslim bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep on my doorstep!'”

Toward the end of the night, the 9 year-old was sent to his room to finish homework and the 3 year-old marveled at on-screen video games and Power Rangers. Mohanad took care of the baby and Nichole cleared the table. She says while their nightly discussions about politics and society sometimes leave her in despair, she is more hopeful than dispirited.

“It's hitting home for all of us that we can't sit on the sidelines anymore. It's time to, you know, put our skin in the game. Basically, it's time to get up there," Nichole said. "I don't trust the politicians anymore. I don't trust them to make decisions for my children, so I'm going to stand up and I'm going to fight for them and I'm going to make sure that I leave behind something better for my children and our children. Because they deserve that."  

The night ended with the family washing dishes, sending reluctant children to bed, and planning for the next day in their lives and the day after.