I was confronted with this question this past Friday at an event I attended through the Interfaith Alliance titled “What is driving the anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S.?”
I was invited to this event by a friend who knew that I am passionate about this issue and knows that I have dealt with this issue before. I am a hijabi (covered) after all! She did mention that some people might not be so happy to see Muslims there or just don’t like Muslims in general (Sadly, to be expected).
I got there and found that the president of one of the Mosques in the area was there. We were the only 2 Muslims in the audience, that I knew of. I did, however see a lot of people I work with through the peace community. (Again, to be expected)
The speak was a historian and has done a lot of research about this issue. He was well spoken and had made a lot of good points. Comparing the Anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe and the US. I didn’t know that Switzerland had banned minarets.
He also talked about how some Muslims leaders are choosing not to speak out or are too afraid to speak out. This is where I disagree, many are speaking out but no one is listening.
A man from the audience said that if something like this was happening to Christians they would have spoken up and then he said women don’t speak out because of the hijab. This is when the bells in my head were going off…Like WHAT!!?!??
This is when both the president of the Mosque and I raised our hands. The president spoke about how people are fearful of their ability to convey the message right, a lot of people are immigrants and English is not their first language. Also, that some people who are here aren’t citizens and feel they can’t speak out.
I spoke up and just stated that no one wants to hear what I have to say. No one asked me if I was oppressed, they told me I was. No one wants to hear my story because I’m not oppressed, or abused or whatever else they would like to hear. My story is normal, bordering on boring and that is why I am uninteresting to people. Now, if I said my father beat me and forced me to wear the hijab…then I’m sure I would get some attention, but that isn’t true.
So, that brings me back to my original question…Who speaks for me?
I, Samar, speak for myself.
END OF STORY.