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Azra Baig's Blog
Considered by many to be the holiest day in the Christian calendar, on this past Christmas Day my time of peace was disturbed by Anti-Muslim Harassment while I was on vacation at the Wailea Marriott Beach Resort in Maui. What does the future hold...is there no escape from hatred, racism and bigotry?
On December 25, 2016 while vacationing in Muai, I was targeted with harassment from a Caucasian woman, who looked to be in her 70s. The two of us were alone in the lobby of the resort as we both approached the elevators. I pressed the elevator button and the woman asked me "Are you Muslim?" I looked at her and said "Yes." Then she said, "I am not getting on the elevator with you". I was taken aback and I said "That wasn't nice." Then she said to me, "You need to leave." Then I said, "What happened to love and compassion for All? What happened to love of humanity?" She started walking away from me and down the stairs while shaking her head no. As she was going down the stairs I said to her, "I am a nurse and I take care of everyone the same...No matter what race, religion, ethnicity or nationality."
I immediately went to look for an employee of the resort to alert a manager or security. By the time I alerted them and shared my incident, the woman was nowhere to be found.
There was a tourist from Dallas, Texas, who witnessed the entire incident. She said, "I am shocked that I just witnessed this...That was inappropriate.... I'm glad you said something because if you didn't say something, I was going to say something to her." She felt bad that I was targeted with such harassment and shocked that someone actually would say those words even if that is what they felt inside.
The Wailea Resort Manager and Security took a report of the incident from myself and from the witness. The local Police Department was also notified and came and took a report of the harassment incident.
The Managers and Security at the resort apologized for this incident of harassment at the resort. They said that if I should see this woman again to alert Security and not to approach her myself. I am very appreciative of the managers and staff's support and kindness with this situation and the wonderful treatment during our entirety of our stay at the resort.
I am extremely disappointed that this woman had the audacity to behave in this manner especially on Christmas Day. A day of much love and happiness for so many. I was here in Maui to enjoy a wonderful vacation with my family, to get away from the chaos of everyday life and from the negativity I had already been subjected to, and this individual had to ruin what was supposed to be my time of peace.
#ChristmasDay2016 #Islamophobia #Maui
Ms. Azra Baig is a school nurse and a member of the South Brunswick Board of Education
Sr. Kaity's Blog
Islamophobia has been present in America for decades. However, after it became clear that Donald Trump would become President- Elect, there was a sudden rise of hate crimes against American Muslims. Threatening letters have been sent to American Muslims containing phrases like, "go back to your country' or ' take that piece of cloth off your head'. This is not what America stands for. America is the land of the free with equality and justice for all.
Contrary to popular perceptions, Muslim Americans have always been at the front lines of defending and supporting other faiths. They have always sought to clear the blurred picture of what Islam truly represents by educating the public in interfaith forums.
CAIR, a national civil rights organization, launched a campaign at the beginning of 2016 to counter Islamophobia by distributing a cure in pill form called "Islamophobin". The satirical twist was that the campaign aimed to spread love. The warning label on the box cautioned, " May result in peaceful coexistence". The fear that has filled our hearts has lead people to hate one another. We must learn to accept our differences, and not let them divide us; but strengthen and unite us.
While average American Muslims had worked hard to spread peace and love before this election, they might have to work harder to try to maintain whatever positive image they were able to create. Meanwhile, this shouldn’t be seen as an obstacle, it merely reflects the values of what Islam teaches: Kindness and Peace.
Martin Luther King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." In the spirit of Dr. King’s profound words, I have recently started an initiative, called “From my Muslim Neighbor”. I will be giving out Christmas cards this Holiday season to families in my city. While this is a simple gesture, I hope it will send a powerful message of acceptance and love amongst everyone who receives it.
Sr. Kaity Assaf is a Freshman at Rutgers University,The Founder of Eid in Clifton NJ, and an Intern at CAIR-NJ