By Magda Elkadi Saleh
I was in 8th-Grade when the Iran Hostage Crisis began: November 1979. My sisters, my mother and I were the only hijabis in the small, southern town we had recently relocated to. There were only a handful of Muslim families there, and there was not a real mosque. We used to meet for Jumuah in a part of a local Muslim doctor’s office.
As the only hijabis in our Middle School, my sister and I were targeted as Iranians (pronounced “eye-ray-nee-uns”). We were taunted and told to “go back to where we came from.” There were actually Iranian students in our school [we are from Egypt], but, because they did not identify themselves as Muslim, they were never the target of the taunting, the finger-pointing and the vicious remarks.
We survived, undamaged, and stronger in our faith Alhamdulillah.
We also survived, undamaged, and stronger in our faith after 9-11. Insha'Allah, we will survive these latest attacks as well; attacks by so-called Muslims which lead to attacks on the real Muslims in our communities.
As I write this article, I am in North Carolina visiting family. As I waited for my flight to leave the St. Pete airport for NC, I wrote a post on Facebook about how pleasant my experience was in the airport as a hijabi and how pleasant everyone on the plane was. When I landed in NC, I was very happy to see that many of my friends had commented about their very similar pleasant experiences on trips in the few days following the California shootings.
I write this not to suggest that we should let down our guard and feel that all is good, and that everyone loves Muslims and will treat them (us) as their equals. I write this to affirm to everyone that there are more good people than bad, and that we must stand strong in our Islam and be confident of who we are. We must continue to truly LIVE Islam in the best way that it was meant to be lived.
I write this to remind everyone to be wisely careful and carefully wise.
I write this to remind everyone of the efforts of the Muslim individuals and organizations that work so diligently day in and day out to help ensure that WE can live peacefully in this country as Americans, and to ensure that we are afforded the same rights as every other American citizen.
We have weathered the storms, because we have stayed true to our religion and to our convictions, just as a ship weathers a storm by staying true to its course.
This is neither the first nor the last storm we will weather. We must simply keep this in mind as we stand strong as one by supporting each other and by supporting the efforts of those who strive to defend our liberties. And remember: Hold your heads up and smile a smile that comes straight from your hearts.