Mariam Marghoub grew up on the eastern shoreof Maryland. With a miniscule Muslim community in the area, Mariam found itdifficult to find people who understood Islam. She started wearing the hijab at a young age; a choice she madefor herself.
At the age of fifteen, she felt it would strengthen her faith andbring her closer to God. When asked if she had ever faced an incident ofanti-Muslim bias, 21-year-old Marghoub sadly recalled the day when she walkedinto Rite Aid to get a flu-shot. Fever and cold hadalready been taking a toll on her when she saw an old white man, approximatelyin his sixties, staring terrifyingly at her. After a moment he boldly announced’I bet she’s going to bomb this place’ to a fewothers present at the pharmacy. ”His comment startled me becausethis was the first time I was being attacked for wearing the hijab. That day I realized, that peoplewill always have negative, preconceived ideas about me simply because of what’son my head.” Incidentsof this nature always hurt but never discouraged her fromwearing the hijab. She says itcompelled her to embrace her religion whole-heartedly, with the goal ofeducating those who were ignorant about Islam and it teachings.
Originally from the holy town Najaf inCentral South Iraq, Maryam Alhassani was raised in a conservative family. Aftermoving to California, her mother and elder sisters continued to observe the hijab. Alhassani’s mother was her hero, theperfect model for her to imitate. She grew up seeing her mother wear the hijab, for which reason she always woreone like her too. She was only ten whenshe first wore a hijab to school. Thatday she noticed a change in the attitudes of her teachers and fellow students.
She encountered several incidents of discrimination at school, where she wasassaulted and mocked at by her peers, but it never discouraged her from wearingit. Today, Alhassani, 22, feels that the political environment of a country hasa huge impact on invoking sentiments of hate and bias against its minorities. ‘I think that every Muslimin the US, in its current political environment, has faced a lot morediscrimination than they had, five years ago, during the Obama era. It’s fueledby the government leaders and the type of language they use to personifyMuslims and people of color’ 25-year-old Suniya Tariq has facedseveral incidents of harassment and discrimination that started when she wasonly eight. She was in school at the time of the unfortunate 9/11 attack. Itwas an incident that completely changed her life, like millions of other people.
Her religious identity was brought under the light, and she found herself atthe receiving end of racially-charged comments, blaming her for things she wastoo young to even understand. She claimsto have received several statements about her hijab from white men and women who tend to assume that she is being”forced” to wear it. Nevertheless, theseyoung women stand strong on their faith, and their choice to wear the hijab. For them, it has a much moreprofound meaning than a mere piece of clothing. Slideshow We must not forgetthat the United States after all is a nation built by immigrants- people from somany different ethnicities, religions and nationalities. It has always been aplace of freedom and refuge from persecution. Its diversity is one of thethings that makes it the greatest country in the world.
To retain itsreputation as the country where anything can be achieved, it must continue toprovide the same opportunities to all of its people, based solely on hard workand education, irrespective of religious identity. It must continue tocelebrate this diversity instead of suppressing it.