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As American as Apple Pie

Did Obama’s trip to Turkey help Muslims here at home? It depends on how you view my headscarf.

Last month, as I was watching the news coverage of President Obama‘s visit to Turkey, I thought back to an awkward experience I had as an undergraduate student applying for a job at my university. When I handed the receptionist at the student union my Social Security card, a required form of identification, she told me she needed my passport as well.

Surprised, I questioned the need for it. She brought over her supervisor, who glanced at my hijab—a headscarf worn by many Muslim women—and asked, “Aren’t you an international student?” “No,” I said. “I’m an American citizen. I was born in New Jersey.” Her mouth dropped open and she stammered, “Oh, you’re not a foreigner?”

It was not a new experience for me, as a Muslim growing up in this country. Before people learned my name, saw me run at a track meet or heard me debate an argument, they assumed they knew who I am.That’s why Obama’s decision to visit a Muslim country within the first 100 days of his presidency was such a significant moment for me. Hearing his unwavering, unapologetic message to the Turkish Parliament filled me with pride: yes, he told the world, Muslim Americans exist, and our existence has enriched—not impoverished—American culture. His words mirrored what I have long sought to convey to other Americans: that you can be both a devout Muslim and a patriotic American. Read more…

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Categories: In My Own Words

Being American – and Muslim

April 6, 2009 Leave a comment

It was evening rush hour in New York City. 42nd St. was packed, and I was hoping I would make the bus. His voice came out of the crowd.

“Take that rag off!”

Huh?

In my four months of working in New York, that was a first. Actually, that was a first in the seven years since I started wearing a hijab. A lot of people turned to look at me as he shouted those words. I don’t know exactly what I was feeling — some mixture of anger and embarrassment — but I knew I wanted to stop and explain to this man the significance of what he dismissed as a “rag.” He didn’t understand the one thing I cherished most, the thing that I took so much care in making sure I did right — my religion.

– Excerpt from article on Time.com
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Categories: In My Own Words