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An Open Letter to the Racist Man Who Stopped Me On the Street Today

An open letter to the man who stopped me on the street to tell me that “we should have never let you n****** into this country” and then tried to hit me,

I have no anger in my heart against you. I don’t hate you. I have no bad wishes for you. I only hope that you can find in your heart the love and forgiveness that I have.
That being said, you had no right to say that to me. You had no right to make me feel unsafe on my morning walk to school. You had no right to traumatize me and to make me feel unsafe on a part of my routine. You had no right to try to hurt me. You had no right to tell me that I don’t belong here. New York City is just as much mine as it is yours. This country is just as much mine as it is yours. I have as much right to go to school here and get an education as you do.
But I am not going to justify my faith to you or anyone else.
I am sick and tired of feeling like I have to apologize for atrocities committed by people I’ve never met, like somehow it’s my fault, like somehow I have to justify myself, like somehow I have to say out loud that I am not a terrorist. It’s ridiculous and unfair.
I am a Muslim. But I am also an Egyptian, an American, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a student and most importantly, I am a human.
But instead of being treated as such, you treat me like an abstract concept, like a statistic, like a news story on suicide bombings and terrorist threats. If you got to know me or any Muslim, you’d know that we are people. We do things like everyone else, we lead lives and do normal things like drink coffee and cry over TV shows and contrary to the picture painted by popular media, the fair majority of us don’t spend our days plotting the fall of the West. We, Muslims, think these terrorists are just as crazy and sick as you do.
So please, educate yourself. Muslims shouldn’t have to keep telling the entire world who we are, and we shouldn’t have to be held accountable for the actions of perverse, lost souls who have been grossly miseducated about the Message of our Prophet.

All of which is to say, if anyone is willing to listen to me talk, I’d be glad to educate them on who Muslims really are.

Yours Sincerely,

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Comments ( 8 )
  • Mohamed says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to you today and I’m so happy because the way you handle this problem is the right way
    I love you Amani
    Your father Mohamed

  • Bill Bob says:

    “Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, ’embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects ‘what their religion has historically and legally required.’ Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an ‘interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition…According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. ‘Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”

    “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing…but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)” -Quran (2:191-193)

    • Amani Mohamed says:

      I don’t understand what this has to do with my piece, with real, peaceful Muslims, and with anything I wrote about. Are you trying to justify my attack? Are you legitimizing what ISIS is doing? Are you saying that all Muslims are secretly terrorists? I don’t understand what could have possibly compelled you to write such a thing.

  • Bill Bob says:

    Sucks what happened to you. But, Islam appears to be an intrinsically violent religion. Just going by what the text of the Koran says.

    Quran (2:216) – “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.”

    Quran (3:56) – “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”

    Quran (3:151) – “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”

    Quran (4:76) – “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…”

    • Amani Mohamed says:

      And here we have another case of someone giving out-of-context quotes from the Koran with no explanation of where they were taken from and no sources of scholarly discussion and interpretation and conveniently forgetting that the Bible has similar passages of violence. Where you say the Koran calls for war and killing of unbelievers, the amount of rape and incest that doesn’t cause anyone to bat an eye in the Bible could make people surmise that Christians endorse that sort of thing. But no one does. Abrahamic texts are full of violence, there can be no doubt. But condemning a people for believing in a message that has been interpreted and taught throughout the world as peaceful, when the overwhelming majority of us who are Muslims have led lives as peaceful as can be based on a few passages out of context that have numerous interpretations is just unfair.

      • Bill Bob says:

        And yet, three are entire Islamic nations that support these quotes and honor killings etc. There aren’t entire Christian nations that support the examples of violence in the Bible.

  • Bill Bob says:

    Also, that guy who accosted you is a horrible human being and he had no right to do that. But, a non-Muslim walking through, say, Tehran, might run into a few problems as well.

    • Emily says:

      Amani, your words are courageously spoken, and I hope you continue to have the strength to point out and challenge injustice. Contrary to what Bill Bob seems to claim, what this man on the street said to you is not justified nor even mitigated in the slightest simply because there are areas in the world that abide by sharia or because you came to a country where the majority of the population is non-Arab. You should not have to explain your presence, and I hope you are able to remember that throughout your years here. Please know that there are many at Columbia including myself who proudly stand with you.

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