No one said being a Muslim in the United States would be easy. I have encountered my share of discrimination and stares. One thing that I have never felt is censored being an American Muslim. That all changed a few days ago when I said what was on my mind without thinking of its repercussions.

We all went out to shop at the outlet mall last week when like usual my two year old daughter got a tantrum and started to scream as if she was being killed. Out of the frustration I said loudly to my husband “I’m going to explode!” Uh oh….did I say something wrong? Evidently I did. I said the word “explode”. My husband quickly reprimanded me by saying “Don’t say that”. I quickly rewinded my thoughts and wondered what did I say wrong? Oh…. it hit me like a brick wall I said the big “E” word which as Muslims it has somehow become illegal to say in public. I was rushed with anger. How is it that as Muslims we have to walk on a string over a steep ravine, and watch out if you fall into the hands of federal officials all because u said a word that has been taken out of context or form at a public space. A word that, of course, would only cause a huge uproar if it came out of a Muslim’s mouth. I know obvioulsy the reason this word is so sensitive now, but a casual simple sentence I said could have landed me behind bars and thanks to the Patriot Act with little if any rights.

I never had to think about what I say in public until this day at the mall. As an American Muslim, I felt no caution in what to say in public. I had my first amendment of Freedom of Speech.  Or did I?

It dawned on me that all though I was aware of my rights in this country it could have easily been stripped away all due to a careless sentence I said refering to my emotions and nothing to do with an actual bomb of any sort. I have to admit living in a post 9/11 country things are getting very difficult for Muslims whether they are immigrants or citizens of this country. I have become censored by the American public. I have to walk, talk and act carefully wherever I am. All eyes are on me the Muslimah in hijab. I know what those stares mean. Is she a terrorist? Why is she here? Is she a sleeper cell? If any of you have traveled you know full well the pressure put on Muslims everywhere including an airport. It’s very frightening at times living here, and knowing that you are being watched and screened in everything. Our calls are being monitered, our bank accounts are regularly being screened for suspicious withdrawals, and we are checked whenever we travel both domestically and internationally at times in separate lines. This has made me fed up with this stereotype and racial profiling. Of course, I haven’t been checked separately from my American peers, but I have been treated suspiciously and even questioned as to my reason for traveling. 

After that day in the mall, it brought me back to reality. I realized that I am a stranger living in my country and that the laws really don’t apply to me anymore. I’m in a country that once viewed me as innocent until proven guilty; now I am seen guilty until proven innocent. Ironic isn’t it? The trials of being a Muslim in a Non-Muslim country. I guess it’s one of those things I have to grow accustomed too, or do I?

In my opinion, I don’t. I should have the right and ability to say whatever I feel about all matters, and I demand to be treated as an equal in this country and not as a second class citizen. The laws are written in the constitition for equality, fairness, and justice, but does that all stand true. Muslims rights are being trampled little by little we lose a little more of our freedom. This isn’t the America I grew up in and definitely not the America I will stand to watch silently without practicing this freedom that was given to me when I was born. Not as an American citizen but as a Muslim. It’s about time we get involved with changing the laws that have censored our speech and way of life. Some of us have accepted this and live our day to day activities, but think about the difference we can all make if we stood tall and appealed the Patriot Act. Yes, we all know this life isn’t fair and is full of injustices, but I do believe that it’s my responsibility to use the rights that have been given to me as a citizen of this country to make sure we are all treated equally and not biased because of our religion or ethnicity. I’m using my right of freedom speech. One of  my many reasons for writing again. Something must be done, and if it’s in the form of words on a blank page then so be it. I feel that in some way inshallah, I have made some kind of change a difference within all the chaos surrounding us.

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