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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

What it’s Like to be Muslim in America

By Wagma A.  |   From : Afghanistan  |   School : International High School at Largo

Have you ever thought what it means to be a muslim in non-muslim country? I never thought that it would be that hard! I am a muslim girl. I born in Afghanistan where 99% people are muslim. It is not  a safe country. Many gangs are fighting in Afghanistan. Hundreds of people are dying everyday. My family decided to leave Afghanistan and go to the United States for a better life. But when we come to the United States things got worse because the minority was muslim and some people from other religion were not good with us. Each member of our family was sad and disappointed.

 First, when I came to the United States after 15 days, I went with my family to the hospital because we all had doctors appointments. 

As we were going back home while waiting for the bus at the bus stop, a white man came to us and he said, “ hey you all know what? You all are dogs! Call me God, I am your God.” 

We were all so scared my father told  him “should I call the police?” but he was still there. 

My brother and  sister were crying because they were scared. 

I said, “come on dad we all will beat him up.” 

My dad laughed and said “No daughter he is crazy just ignore him.” 

After we went home my mom said, “we should go back to Afghanistan because I think no one likes muslims in America.” but my father convinced her that we should stay in America.

After one month, I went to the middle school called, Kenmoor Middle School. It was close to our house. In the morning instead of riding the bus I was always going by walking with my other friends who were from Afghanistan and Syria. I didn’t know much english, but  it wasn’t a big deal for me because I had Afghan classmates who were always translating for me. In Avid class, our teacher was a tough teacher.Whenever we got into her class, everyone would start working and no one would talk because they all were scared of her. In all period I was sitting with other muslim girls and boys.

One day my teacher pointed each muslim and she said “Follow me, we are going to the school library.”

 One of my classmates  named Angel asked, “ Why only Muslims?

My teacher answered angrily “ Sit down and do your work.” 

And she took us with her to the school library. Each one of us was so excited because we didn’t know what will happen.

As we get into the library the teacher said, “Make a circle everybody!’’

After, we made a circle.

The first question she asked was “Do you guys take shower?”

We all said “What do you mean? Of course we are taking shower.”

In addition to this, she said  ̈Do you guys use perfume?¨

We all said, “yes! Why?.”

She answered “Many of you smells under arms.¨

We all looked at each other and I could see that every single person in the circle was feeling embarrassed and sad except our teacher. None of us said even a word.

My teacher said, “You all make sure to take shower the next day when you all are coming to school.”

Our classmate named Zahida answered her, “ Excuse me! We are always taking showers.”

The teacher said, “ whatever, you all go back to the classroom.”

We all went back to the classroom, and each one of us were sad and angry.

After that, when I went home my father said “ why are you sad Wagma? Is everything alright?” 

I told him everything that’s happened to me in school.

He said “ she can’t tell you all these things, it’s discrimination against you all.”

Then, he called our caseworker and he told everything to him.

Our case worker said “ I wrote a complaint about her and I will send it to school you all don’t worry.”

I thought she would get fired because we wrote a complaint about her, but when I went to school she was still there and nothing was changed. 

In 2019, the year when I start my 10th grade. All of my classes were with 2 muslims girls named Noor and Mozghan. One day in Government class I was sitting with Noor and Mozhgan two Spanish boys joined our table and they both sat in front of us. One boy came close to us and he was looking at our hijabs.

He asked “why are you girls wearing scarves?¨ 

Noor answered  ̈We are wearing scarves because it is a part of our religion.¨

The boy said ¨ Show me your hair.¨

We all said ¨ We cannot because our religion is not allowing us.¨

He laughed and said ¨You don’t have hair that’s why you all are wearing hijab.¨

All the students who were sitting at our table laughed at us.

Mozghan said ¨girls, ignore them.¨

We didn’t say anything to them, but we felt angry and sad.

One day a social worker in International High School took me with her to her room and she said “some of your classmates complain about some muslims girls are smelling under arms.¨

I told her ̈ they don’t like us thatś why they said that.¨

She said ¨hold on why you think that.¨

I said ¨ their behavior is not nice with us in our classes.¨

She said ¨ So it means you are not feeling welcome to this country.¨

I didn’t say anything and I started crying because I felt sad and disappointed.

The other day the Social worker talked to me again and this time she said ¨I made a group in which we will talk about self defence. Also, in this group we are trying to give confidence to shy girls and we are trying to teach them  how to fight back.¨

I said ¨ oh it sounds good! Okay I will join this group.¨

After I joined the group I learned lots of things. For example, I learned how to defend myself and how to fight back. 

In summary, I was really tired of living in the United States because many people don’t have respect towards muslim. Every single day I wished to go back to Afghanistan where no one disrespect me and my religion but we can’t go back there because itś not a peaceful country. However, I feel good now because things are getting better, most of my classmates who are not muslim become my friends. And I feel more comfortable now.

This, to me, is what it means to be a muslim in non muslim country. 

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