by Kinaya Hassane
In my lifetime, the region of Northern Virginia has become more and more diverse as people from a multitude of different cultures are welcomed with open arms. Since the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and the linking of a local imam to several major terrorist attacks, however, that embrace does not include Muslims living in the region. This is very clear, even in the local high schools.
My own high school, as large as it is, is mostly made up of white Christians. Despite that, there are many active student associations pertaining to race and religion. Whenever Christmas rolls around, it is usually announced that the Christian Fellowship Club and the Catholic Student Association have planned some sort of celebrations. When Hanukkah arrives, the Jewish Culture Club hosts a party. February is a busy month for the Black Student Association and one can’t walk down the hallway without seeing a member of the Asian American Student Association wearing a shirt that reads, “I’m Asian and I Know It”. But once the time comes for Ramadan and Eid, the Muslim Student Association is silent.
My school’s Muslim Student Association in relation to the other student associations keeps a very low profile. On rare occasions, they will conduct a pizza sale in the main hallway after school. But that’s it. The association’s silence is probably due to the silent prejudice that still runs rampant amongst my school’s student body.
Post-9/11 Islamophobia causes students to shift uncomfortably in their chairs and sneak cautious looks at the nearest kid with a Muslim sounding name during the “Islam” unit of our history class, as well as the 9/11 commemoration during the school’s morning news program.
I hopefully speak for my fellow young Muslims when I say that I’m proud to call America home. If it weren’t for my parents’ immigration to this country, I wouldn’t have access to the excellent high schools and top-notch universities the nation has to offer. To assume that all Muslim-Americans hate the United States is absurd. Why would we hate the nation that has provided us with better opportunities than our countries of origin ever could? It’s ridiculous to assume that we’d love to see the country that we love burn at the hands of zealous, Western-hating extremists.