Raneem Hassan decided to spend her first day of vacation shopping at the Melbourne Square Mall in Melbourne, Florida. It all went south when she was approached by a bathtub vendor. Hassan was asked if she would like to purchase a bathtub and when she refused the vendor asked her why she “wears that” pointing to her hijab. Hassan answered it was part of her faith when the vendor angrily responded “No! It’s culture!” Hassan kindly informed the vendor it was part of her faith and attempted to walk away.
The vendor then said “You’re in America!” As Hassan continued to walk away she tells the vendor she will continue to practice her religion regardless of where she is. The vendor follows Hassan and steps in front of her and tells her to remove her hijab and “look like us Americans”. Hassan retorted by telling the vendor to move from her personal space and added that she is American and entitled to her personal beliefs.
Hassan managed to get away from the vendor and enter Macy’s. As Hassan left the department store the vendor was waiting at the exact spot where she entered and proceeded to follow her. The vendor asked Hassan why there are so many of them (Muslims) in the United States and that they should do that (cover their heads) back home. Hassan, feeling uncomfortable due to the harassment, hurriedly left the mall hoping the vendor would not follow her to her car. Luckily, the vendor stayed inside of the mall and the harassment ended there.
Hassan is filing a complaint with the customer service department of the Melbourne Square Mall. Muslims should be able to shop without harassment from store owners, vendors, or consumers.
Unfortunately Islamophobia is on the rise in the United States and Muslim women must be aware of their surroundings at all time. With all of the hate crimes towards Muslim women in the past few weeks I am happy to report that Hassan was not physically injured, but must point out the seriousness of such harassment.
Archive for family
Recently the youth group I’ve coordinated hosted a Black and White Gala in our small town. Working with the youth with little to no help from parents is a task in itself but I see the need so I am extremely committed to the youth. A decision was made that it would be appropriate for our guest speaker to address the audience about the issues that plague the Muslim youth. The evening went on as planned. Hujrah Wahhaj came to the Gala and spoke briefly about some of the issues that are facing our youth. In my opinion she only scratched the surface but I felt it was perfect for our community because I have counseled girls with similar to worse issues.
After the event I spoke to some women who attended and asked their opinion about the speech. The responses I received left me totally perplexed. I was told that the event was nice, but “Arabs don’t want their children hearing about boyfriends”. This almost knocked me off my feet. Besides the fact that the overall message was clearly lost by many, I was a little disturbed by the feedback. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but “Arab kids” already know about “boyfriends”. Herein lies the problem with Muslims (or “Arabs” since the term is used interchangeably). When it comes to the youth we think there are no problems. I’m certain if more adults knew the issues that go on with the youth they would be more dedicated to solving the problems. I’ve had girls tell me they were hanging out with boys, got drunk, and were raped. I’ve taken girls to clinics to get tested for HIV. In our little community there have been situations where young brides have gotten married only to find out their spouses are homosexual. Not only are girls having boyfriends, but they are involved with guys who are destructive criminals dealing with drugs and other harmful substances. Girls are getting pregnant and having abortions. Teens are doing extremely shameful things so that they won’t be labeled as “losing their virginity”. The youth are pressured by their peers into doing things that are not in line with Islamic teachings.
Many of these issues are taking place and instead of the Muslim community as a whole coming together and developing solutions we tend to act like there are no problems. Sometimes I hear people talking and saying things like “American teens do this or do that”. As if teens who are from other countries aren’t effected by the same issues. No! We can not continue to label these problems as “American” problems. These are issues that many teens, no matter the race or religion, are going through.
I spoke with another parent and I can’t help but appreciate her honesty. I was told many parents just do not want to believe it’s their daughters who are going through these issues. Still I have to say, pretending there isn’t a problem only makes it worse. Some of the girls are crying out for help and there is no one there. Eventually they become sucked into a life of false promises. They are controlled by a society that is pretty much Godless. Their friends become people who couldn’t care less if they used to practice Islam, wear hijab, or Pray 5 times a day. Our girls become numbers and we are all watching them leave one by one.
Parents, you can’t just sit back and call it a “phase”. As adults we should be eager to work with the youth as mentors and make an attempt to prevent them from falling into error. No doubt, the world is appealing as it is. So what impression do you think the world will leave on your young child’s brain?? A brain that has yet to fully develop?? This is the time when the youth can not be left alone to figure things out on their own. I pray Allah gives me the strength to continue working with the youth and raise my children to be righteous and to make moral decisions when they are faced with these very issues.