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Muslim teen reflects on life since Sept. 11

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  • Zafar Khan
    Muslim teen reflects on life since Sept. 11 By Emma Hulse, 15 Y-Press May 19, 2002 http://www.starnews.com/article.php?yp0519.html Huma Ansari, 18, is like
    Message 1 of 1 , May 20, 2002
      Muslim teen reflects on life since Sept. 11

      By Emma Hulse, 15


      May 19, 2002


      Huma Ansari, 18, is like many American teens. She
      lives with her parents and younger sister in Muncie,
      attends Burris Laboratory School on the Ball State
      campus, and plans to attend Indiana University in the
      majoring in pre-med and biology.

      Unlike most teen-age girls, however, she is Muslim --
      one of about 200,000 Muslims in Indiana.

      Ansari talked to Y-Press recently about her life as a
      Muslim in America after Sept. 11.

      In her own words

      "In Muncie, there aren't any other Muslim youth my
      age. We have about 90 kids in our Sunday school, and
      they're between the ages of 3 and 14.

      "My friends are mostly Christian or Hindu. I have a
      lot of Hindu friends because my family is from India.
      I went to a Christian -- a Baptist -- school, until
      the fifth grade. And I think sometime like late in
      elementary, like third or fourth grade, people were
      like, 'Oh, well,
      you're gonna go to hell because you're not Christian.'

      ". . . And so I would always ask my parents, you know,
      and they were like, 'Well, they just don't
      understand.' I think people don't realize how many
      similarities there are, and they just try to
      accentuate the differences,
      and that really makes it difficult for me.

      "(Islam) is a lot like Judaism and Christianity -- it
      has the same roots. We believe in the same prophets,
      like Abraham and Jesus. We believe in Adam and Eve and
      that kind of thing.

      "I think that a lot of times the Western world sort of
      has this misconception that Muslim women are under
      oppression. I think they interpret modesty as
      oppression. In the Quran, which is like the Bible,
      it shows that men and women are equal in everything.
      Islam was the first religion to actually give women
      the right to own land and have business, and be the
      sole owner of a business, and to vote.

      "In Islam, you can never justify killing another
      person. They even say that killing one person is like
      killing all of humanity, and saving one person is like
      saving all of humanity.

      "(On September 11th) I actually called home from
      school, crying . . .because people were just joking
      around and stuff. And my mom just told me to ignore
      them, and if anything, tell them that I didn't do
      wrong, so why are you discriminating against me or
      making fun of me, because I'm just like any one of you
      and we're all victims, I guess.

      "People have a misconception that we're like fighters
      and like brutal
      people, and that's just not true at all. Like the week
      after September
      11th, on campus, a couple of guys were walking, and I
      was walking to
      of my classes. And this guy said, 'Those damn Muslims
      just like want to
      take over the world,' or something like that. And I
      was walking behind
      them, and I got really offended. So I got up in front
      of them, and I
      like, 'What are you talking about? I'm Muslim, and I'm
      a little girl
      I'm not trying to take over the world or anything.'

      "I think it (the media) definitely plays a big role. I
      was watching, I
      think it was CNN and Fox News and like all the other
      news channels
      all had these debates on about how to change the
      Muslim world.

      "It was just all of these really negative stereotypes,
      and a lot of
      had Muslim guests on the show, talking about Islam.
      And every time they
      would say something positive, the host would interrupt
      them with
      something, you know, like a misconception or say,
      'Well, you're not
      this is how it is.' So I think the voice of the Muslim
      world is a lot
      times just turned down.

      "And I think Muslims only show up in the media when
      they do bad things.
      And I honestly believe that if a Christian or a Jew or
      a Hindu or a
      Buddhist does a crime, it won't be such a big deal.
      Because now, I
      Muslims are a target.

      "I have a cousin who went to Harvard, and he is an
      Islamic studies
      and he's working for an attorney in Washington. . . .
      And he had a lot
      trouble with people following him, just like that week
      or two after
      September 11th, and like being searched and that kind
      of thing. And
      he said, 'I work for a senator,' and the senator
      didn't even help him

      "The first week or so we were all afraid to go to the
      mosque because we
      weren't sure what to expect. And actually we had
      friends come from a
      church downtown, and they all sat out in our parking
      lot while we had
      prayer services and stuff just to make sure we were
      safe. Then we just
      back to our daily schedule, I guess.

      "(September 11th) has made me more aware of who I am
      and everything.
      people are asking a lot more questions, and people are
      a lot more ready
      learn, because I think in this world, like in this day
      and age, you
      to know about people.

      "I've been giving talks about Islam and talking to my
      friends. It was a
      little scary at first because there was a little bit
      of discrimination
      people just seemed like, 'Oh, you're Muslim. Well,
      they kill people,

      "But I think it's a good thing the way that like the
      American people
      responding and reaching out because I think
      understanding between two
      cultures or two religions, any two religions, is the
      most important
      that can happen."

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