Abu Marwan's job has gotten a lot harder since Donald Trump took office. The president of the Masjid Al-Rahma outside San Diego, Marwan has relied on volunteers to serve as imam of the rapidly growing mosque ever since it opened in a strip mall several years ago. But these days, when he turns to those same volunteers, they always have something else to do. Marwan says it's because they're afraid of violence against Muslims, which has been on the rise since the 2016 election. As he puts it, "They always say they're busy, busy. The truth is they just don't want to do it right now."
Bringing in an imam from overseas has been just as difficult. Marwan invited one from Egypt to come for the holy month of Ramadan this past June, but the religious leader was unable to get a visa. And so, these days, instead of a regular imam at Masjid Al-Rahma, there is a changing cast of volunteers, students and borrowed imams—and sometimes no one at all—to read prayers to the 300 strong congregation. "Every Friday it is a nightmare to fill in the gap," says Marwan. "Sometimes I have to call hundreds of people and still I can not find someone. It's very stressful."