What Has This World Reached?

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Youmna Eladma, 19 years old.

She started wearing Hijab at the end of July of last year. “I loved wearing it because putting on hijab was my own personal choice,” 19-year old Youmna Eladma said. She was working at Aldo’s Accessories at the time when her manager gave her notions that she wasn’t accepting of her veil. “I told her that I was going to start wearing it before-hand and she said, ‘are you going to be wearing it everyday?’ So I said, ‘yes’,  so she answered nonchalantly, “Oh okay.'” But the first day Youmna went to work with her hair concealed under her light pink hijab, her manager took her to the side and told her that she should either “take it off” or she will no longer permit her to work because “it offends the customers.” Shocked and hurt by the spiteful remark, Youmna walked away to continue her job. Ironically, people were acting natural with Youmna and she had especially made much more sales that day. “I got so many compliments on it and the customers were so nice to me,” she said. A few days went by and Youmna started noticing that she stopped receiving hours for work. Emotionally distressed from the treatment she received, Youmna eventually “just quit” because she knew that her manager was really serious about not wanting her to work there anymore.

When the fall semester began, she attended Brooklyn College as a freshman. One day after finishing her last class of the day and walking to her car, she heard shouting from behind her, “go back to your country, what the F*** is that you wearing on your head,” they said. She remembered hearing stories in the media about other hijabies getting harassed and even killed for being recognized as Muslims, but it never occurred to her at any instance that she could be the one to experience any of that.  She couldn’t tell who they were because she was too afraid to look back and, instead, kept walking to reach her car. Paranoid from the racist remarks, she quickened her pace before she was pushed to the ground and stripped of her hijab. She laid on the ground in utter disbelief and shock as they ran off laughing. “I was too afraid to even look back. I don’t even know how these people looked like, I knew I was never going to feel safe again.” The next day at college, Youmna took off her hijab. She was much too paranoid and afraid to deal with ignorant peoples’ slanders. “I felt so weak and I just couldn’t take the pressure. I wished these people would see me for who I am,” she said.

It was not long before Youmna put her hijab back on. “I hated not wearing it. I hated that I allowed these ignorant people win for a moment. And I hated not being able to be me because of other people, so I put my hijab back on to never take it off again,” she said with a smile that brightened her face.

“I’ve learned that there is still a lot of discrimination in the world, especially against Muslims and whether I like it or not, these things will come my way and I have to accept them. I do hope one day that everyone sees that hijab is a form of expression and as long as it doesn’t harm anyone, there is no reason for anyone to judge me just on my appearance,” Youmna said.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. shabina
    Jan 30, 2014 @ 11:55:37

    u hav done a grt job..!
    we need not to chnge 4 sumone else…as empty vessels make much noise

    Reply

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