I'm a British Muslim and I Chose Trump's America Over Brexit Britain | Opinion

For me, Trump's America is a much better place to live than Brexit Britain—even though I'm a British Muslim. Partly, it's the money: Both countries are going through a difficult phase politically, but at least America has a strong economy, while Britain will, sooner or later, pay the price for Brexit.

But it's about much more than economics. By and large, American society—despite some of the rhetoric at the very top and on both the political fringes—continues to be a more welcoming, open place to recent arrivals than Britain.

That's why last year, I left my family, friends and entire life, and moved from "Muslim-ruled" (thanks, Mayor Sadiq Khan) London, to Trumpland. It is a move I haven't regretted.

This is despite being a Muslim who wears his Islam proudly: my spirituality and faith tradition are not only a part of my life, but a big part of my work as an Arabic calligrapher, working with texts that include the Quran.

Islamophobia and racism exist across the Western (and much of the Eastern) worlds. This is something Brits and Yanks share, but the difference isn't in the politics—it's in the society and the people.

It's often said that America is a nation of immigrants, and despite all that has happened in the last two and a half years, it's still largely true. Immigration isn't a recent occurrence here—it goes all the way back to the Founding Fathers, it's wrought into the nation's DNA. America is an immigrant project, and it shows in my experience as a brown man. Even in areas that are majority white, I don't necessarily feel like an outsider. My ethnic ambiguity means that I could be Italian, Latino, native American, or a mix of all of the above.

This is very different to Britain, where too many social issues are reduced to debates about "whites" and "Asians"—a term meaning people of South Asian descent in general, and Pakistan in particular.

Perhaps British society feels so divided at the bottom precisely because it is so uniform at the top: there is still an enormous dominance of white faces with Anglo-Saxon names in politics, media and power. Compare that to America, where even "white" people are likely to have a surname that is Italian, Spanish or Eastern European, and where there are many, many more leading political and cultural figures who are not white.

The elitism around the more exclusive industries in Britain is even more apparent when it comes to the arts, the industry where I have chosen to make a living. Forging an artistic career in my home country felt more as a novelty than as part of the mainstream.

This had a practical meaning, too: it was difficult for me to make a living in the UK. In four years of working professionally as an artist in Britain I only ever had one gallery show. However, in the 18 months I've spent so far in America I have had 12—almost one a month.

This isn't just because of the difference between the arts and societies in the two countries; it's because of the differences between American Muslims and British Muslims.

Although I pride myself on creating inclusive work and my clients come from all backgrounds, the majority of them are Muslims. In Britain they are victims not only of Islamophobia but often a lack of economic and educational opportunity. The key to this is history: many of of us are the children and grandchildren of laborers brought over from the then-British Empire to work in since-dilapidated towns and industries.

American Muslims, on the other hand, sought opportunity in America, often after beginning life in their home countries as members of the middle class. They were often professional and highly educated from the first generation, arriving with a considerable head start.

In my experience it means that, compared to us, their British co-religionists, more American Muslims are open, progressive, and excited by the arts—especially arts that beautify their heritage and religion.

Through my work, they see the non-political, non-confrontational and inclusive lens through which people can get in touch with Islamic culture. I never take this for granted: Although many of my clients in the past were from the Middle East, some potential clients there felt that as a non-Arab I wasn't "qualified" to work with the Arabic script in my art.

Not so in America, where people of all backgrounds have been intrigued by me and what I am doing here. That includes Non-Muslim Americans, regardless of their politics. It is my goal to have a room full of non-Muslim Americans at my next gallery show.

Nothing can replace home. Nothing can take the place of family or lifelong friends. But as long as America remains the best place in the world where a hopeful immigrant can take his spiritual beliefs to a new land and freely express himself, I will be here—whoever is in the White House.

Aadil Abedi is a British Muslim artist living in Washington DC.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​

I'm a British Muslim and I Chose Trump's America Over Brexit Britain | Opinion | Opinion