Recently I had the opportunity to sit and talk with a close Saudi friend who is also an American passport holder. She was born in the States and spent a significant portion of her life in America until moving to Saudi Arabia with her parents. Even once she left the States she returned routinely for visits and extended stays.
She is presently in the States again for an extended stay. What she had to say about her reception in America this time was disappointing and saddened me.
She wears Western clothes but chooses to wear her hijjab. It is simply a part of her. Yet because of the hijjab, a high percentage of Americans have chosen to ignore her overtures at friendship…from a fellow American, no less.
Her children attend school and day care respectively. They do have adorable Saudi features with jet black eyes and dark curly hair and brown-toned skin. They speak both Arabic and English fluently. They are innocent children who have all the same likes and dislikes as children over the world. They enjoy playing video games, they dislike broccoli, bedtime comes too soon, etc.
Yet because of their Arab name and features, they have been discriminated against. The older child is left out from invitations to birthday parties. The younger one does not have any American playmates outside of the day care. It’s not for a lack of trying on the part of their mother. Seeing her children isolated breaks her heart, as it would any mother’s. Her children are also aware that they are treated differently.
They are treated differently because they are Muslim and then to a lesser degree, because they came from Saudi Arabia. But America is as much the mother’s country as any other American.
During our discussions we agreed that there is too much isolation in the United States. Isolation in the sense that most Americans like to stay within their own comfort zone and fear the unknown. Muslims and/or Saudis are viewed as outside the comfort zone due to the negative and sensational reporting that is done on isolated incidents. Such incidents have no bearing or endorse that every Muslim or Saudi is an extremist or terrorist. Sadly though, the negative perception remains.
My friend shared how she might be at a Starbucks and see someone looking at her. Her natural instinct is to smile and say hello. The typical reaction she gets in return is that the other person does not acknowledge her and looks away.
How hard is it to smile and say hello? How easy was it to reject and isolate innocent children from peers? These actions are un-American! What is the perceived threat to America in seeing a mother with young children in Western dress wear a hijjab?
Filed under: abbya, America, culture, Dress, Freedoms, friendship, islam, relationships, religion, Saudi Arabia, Saudi blogs, Saudi culture, Saudi customs, Uncategorized Tagged: | America, blogging, culture, heritage, islam, Saudi Arabia