GOOD LUCK WITH OUR NEW
PRESIDENT BY EMAN HELAL
GOOD LUCK WITH OUR NEW
It was 2:30 am, and nearly a certainty that Mr. Donald Trump has become the new president of the United State of America, when Rana Abdelhamid received a text message on her phone from a lady asking about her next self-defence class. In a chat group with her Muslim girlfriends, they discussed other concerns. Should they leave their homes tomorrow or not? And if they do, should they keep their hijabs on or not ? It was an exhausting day for Rana. She had spent the whole morning in New Hampshire working in Senator Hillary ’s presidential campaign and returned late at night to Boston, where she’s based as a student at Harvard University. Before heading home, she stopped at a friend’s house, where a group of friends had gathered to watch polling results. The group of half a dozen friends chatted, debated, ate and napped as they waited for the final results, before breaking down into tears and dismay. Rana went to bed that night with a heavy heart and woke up the next morning with the realization that her life has changed - this is a new phase in her life like no other she’s experienced before. For the next couple of months, she was inundated with answering countless requests to teach self-defence classes alongside the ones she organizes with her non-profit organisation Malikah. When the newly-elected President Donald Trump imposed the so-called Muslim travel ban, she got more involved in participating protests and activities to support her community which was targeted by this decision. “You have to look at Muslims not just as a Muslims. We are American citizens too and are therefore affected by any Trump policy. Muslim women in this country are bearing the brunt of Trump’s negative actions, and are traumatized by the hate he’s spewing,” Rana said On December 2017, Rana was chosen among the top 10 finalists for the L’óreal Paris’ annual Women of Worth award, a national award that honors women’s philanthropic work within the US. Unfortunately, when a video of her work was posted on the award’s website, many of the comments were hateful. “This girl is a terrorist and she must leave America,” “Why you are doing women rights stuff when Islam oppresses women?” “You should not be a Muslim,” read some of the comments.
“My friends advised me to ignore this hatred because they were online comments. But it was very hard for me to do that. I was very upset. I was physically sickened by this and was not able to get out of the bed for two days,” Rana said. Rana explained that being called a terrorist in online comments is a reflection of a wider national policy. Each time I travelled, I’m stopped at the airport for extra security screening because I am regarded as a potential threat. Regimes around the world view people who look like me as terrorists which has implications on the way we are treated,” Rana said. She recalled how growing up as a Muslim in the US has been tough. “When 9/11 happened, I was only 8 years old – a student in third grade. From the window of my elementary school’s window, I could see that the Twin Towers were no longer there. I was just a kid, and I didn’t realise the impact that day would have on the rest of my life,“ Rana said “As a New Yorker, my city has just gotten attacked by hate and violence. Simultaneously, my community was also facing criminalization by the police, as if my community were all at fault. We could not grieve like regular New Yorkers because very quickly we had to be in the defensive, and very quickly, we saw people getting detained, deported and surveilled. That for me disrupted my childhood,” Rana recalled. When she decided to organize the first self-defence class it was a year and half after she had been attacked in the street. She went to different mosques and community centers in her neighborhood in Queens to ask if she can use their space, but they refused. Finally, the Muslim American society in Brooklyn allowed her that space she needed. But a day before the course, some girls told her they can’t attend the class, which caused her immense distraught because she had worked so hard for this event. On the day, her father drove her to the center and told her she can make it. She remembered that hot evening in the crowded street in NY when this guy grabbed her headscarf. He was quick and his eyes were full of hatred. She didn’t want that to happen again to any other woman.
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