Describing what it was like to cover the presidential campaign as a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf, NPR reporter Asma Khalid said Friday that it was an experience that left her in tears at times.
Khalid wrote an essay about the abuse she encountered on the campaign trail, in which she described being called racist names at rallies, as well as receiving tweets calling her a “raghead, terrorist bitch and jihadi.” At one point, she told CNN’s Carol Costello, she told her editor that she wished she had not signed up for the job.
“I just remember crying,” Khalid said.
“I think that I saw things in this election cycle about who we are as Americans that really saddened me. Things that were said to me I had never heard before,” she added.
One incident, while tagging along with some canvassers in Ohio, proved particularly rattling.
“A woman opened the door, she was engaging with the canvasser answering her questions but at some point her mother saw me, she opened the front door, came out on to the porch and started yelling and said, ‘You need to get off my property.’ She looked squarely at me and said, ‘She needs to get off my property’,” she recalled.
Khalid, who grew up in a small town in Indiana, said she had never encountered a reaction like it.
“In that moment, first impressions, I had never had somebody sort of viscerally hate the idea of me,” she told Costello.
Khalid speculated that the fact that she wears a hijab had been a major factor when it came to encountering suspicion and hatred while on the campaign trail, an experience that had surprised her.
“A lot of times what people see, maybe on first impressions, is the scarf,” she said.
“The other side that people don’t see is that I’m a Hoosier,” she added.
Yet despite some challenging experiences, Khalid emphasized that not all of her encounters were negative, and that she had befriended people along the way, many of who were curious, rather than negative, about meeting a Muslim woman.
“Some folks may not have cared for Muslims in the abstract but they got to know me and my family,” she explained.