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Voices

What It Feels Like to Be a Muslim Woman After the Death of Nabra Hassanen

Islamophobia remains familiar to the many Muslim families in America.

by Nida Allam
Jun 20 2017, 9:41pm

Image via Nida Allam.

This is an opinion piece by Nida Allam, Muslim American activist and the 3rd Vice Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Where do you go when no place is safe? Where do you go when a "lone wolf" can storm into your house and murder you with a gun point-blank alongside your family? Where do you go when your life could end with the swing of a metal bat as you walk with your friends to the Masjid. Where do you go for help when the same law enforcement that swore to protect you doesn't hesitate to minimize your life to nothing more than being a victim of a dispute?

I have always been taught the Masjid is a safe haven. Any chance we had my parents would take my sisters and I to volunteer, to pray, to play at the Masjid. The Masjid is my home. What do I have when my home is being targeted?

I constantly tell myself I can't live in fear, yet I continue to wake up from nightmares, and flashbacks.

What type of life are you living when you're living in fear? But this fear I live with isn't just for myself. It's for all the marginalized and targeted communities.

It's important for me as a Muslim to understand the Black Lives Matter movement is not separate from the movement for justice towards Muslims. These two movements overlap with our Black Muslim American brothers and sisters who are feeling hatred and bigotry from two ends of the spectrum. We are living in an age where the color of your skin depicts the value of your life. If you're white, are you the right shade of white?

I constantly tell myself I can't live in fear, yet I continue to wake up from nightmares, and flashbacks to the moments following the murders of my friends Deah, Yusor, and Razan. I remember how slow time moved as I anxiously sat by the phone, praying for Yusor to call me back or even send a quick text that she was safe.

I remember reliving those moments as the news was revealed about the tragic murder of Nabra Hassanen in Virginia, and feeling the anger and frustration in law enforcement for refusing to investigate the murders as a hate crime. I will never be able to comprehend the pain felt by Deah, Yusor, and Razan's parents who will never be able to feel the warm embrace of their child again.

Whether you're an infant, a teenager or a parent yourself a daughter will always be her daddy's little girl. Being the youngest of three girls, I know the depth of my father's love. I know the joy he feels in the small successes I have. I know the sadness he feels when I trip and scrape my knee. I will never know the pain Nabra's father feels having learned on a day meant to celebrate the love he has given his children that his little girl was snatched away from him.

It's a pain no parent should have to feel, yet it's so familiar to the many Muslim families in America. We are forced to live in constant fear of it.