A plea for equality from a Hijabi



Tartan students Yasmin, Hamdi, Sumeyo and Amal proudly wearing hijabs.

Farhiyo Ali

What does it mean to be a Hijabi in America in 2020? It means hearing the occasional “Go back to your country”and “What’s on your head?’ It means being called a terrorist. It means getting “randomly” selected to get checked at airports. It means getting stares in public as if you don’t belong, as if you aren’t a regular teenager, as if you are an enemy of the state.

In the state of Minnesota approximately 150,000 Muslims live here– out of those 150,000, 69,000 of them identify as Somali. Due to a dash of Islamophobia and a sprinkle of xenophobia, coupled with inherent racism, Somalis have found that being a Black Muslim immigrant is by no means easy.

Islamophobia in this country was birthed after the devastating 9/11 attacks where 2,977 lives were taken by Al Qaeda a terrorist group with radical extremists ideology. Yet, it is important to understand that in the religion of Islam, murder is one of the biggest sins to commit.  Taking innocent lives  would never be encouraged in Islam and some Muslims, including myself, argue that “Islamic” terrorist groups are not Muslim because they commit abhorrent crimes that are not keeping with the Islamic faith.

So why is it there so much misunderstanding and hatred directed towards Muslims? Perhaps under the current presidential administration, more people feel comfortable with allocating their acrimony against Muslims. This may be due to very public criticisms by the administration and the media.

In January of 2017, President Donald J Trump introduced a travel ban on 7 Muslim majority countries; Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. This executive order banned all refugees from coming into the US for 120 days and banned all refugees from Syria indefinitely. In 2015 during an interview on Morning Joe, Trump said America “needed to watch and study the mosques.”  He then additionally stated 4 days later that under him the United States would implement a database that tracked Muslims in America. It’s this exact alienation against Muslims that makes it harder for Muslims to live day to day.

It’s especially harder on Hijabis because we visually indicate our adherence to the Islamic faith.

So to all of America, I urge that instead of assuming negative things about Muslims, particularly Hijabis, that you get to know us.  Please respect our religious decisions, and we will respect yours in turn.   As a human beings we all have a fundamental right to be equal to everyone else. On behalf of all Hijabis, I beg you to treat us with dignity.