SHAFAQNA- But Maira Salim, 21, who leaves her house everyday knowing to expect at least a few odd questions, is not giving up her right to express herself.
The questions aren’t smart, to say the least:
“Do they make you sleep in it?”
“Is it allowed to touch the ground?”
“Can you hear me in that?”
And while what she really wants to say is “Really? or “Are you serious?”, Maira patiently replies to all those who are curious about her religion and why she wears a hijab.
“I never wanted to be the weird religious girl,” Salim said, who has been in the United States for the last 19 years – since moving with her family from Pakistan.
Believing that it is the basic knowledge about Islam which most Americans lack, Salim faced her life’s first and most horrifying incident when a woman at a traffic light rolled down her window and screamed, “Go back to your own country.”
President of the Muslim Students Association at Wichita State University, Salim began wearing a badge which reads, ‘I’m Muslim, Ask Me a Question’, yet claimed that was not enough. Regardless of how many times she told people she hated Islamic State and their ideology, they weren’t satisfied.
Recalling the anniversary of September 11 as one of the most difficult days for a Muslim, Salim said she went to all possible events to tell people about a Muslim’s side of the story.
“This is not what I stand for,” she said of what happened 14 September 11’s ago, wishing that after all these years people understood. Salim said she learned a long time ago that to survive, she could not let herself be defined by the fears of others. “You have to show people that there is good in the world.”