Growing Up Muslim in the Bluegrass State

July 17, 2005

Source: Lexington Herald Leader

On July 17, 2005 the Lexington Herald Leader reported, "Most 5-year-old girls run from the bully on the playground who wants to yank their pigtails. As a kindergartner, I ran from the bully who wanted to tug off my hijab, the Islamic head cover. 'Is Saddam Hussein your daddy?' I was asked in fourth grade. Seventh grade brought frequent taunts of 'towelhead' from a gang of boys. High school and college at the University of Kentucky were better -- more curiosity and polite inquiry than anything... When I'm out, I sometimes notice that parents draw their children closer or take a wider berth around me. I often deal with long stares and unabashed curiosity. When I see those stares, I don't know whether the people are thinking that I must be oppressed, wondering if I'm Muslim or just glancing around. But my response is always the same: to be as friendly a representative of Islam and hijab as possible. So I smile at them. And most often, they smile back."