The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 31, 2005 - 7A
Continued from page 1A
because it requires a great amount of effort and time
to accomplish MSA's goals.
Mustafa Gulam, an LSA freshman who is South
Asian and ran for an LSA seat on MSA but did not
win, said minorities sometimes feel that they cannot
or do not want to go out and seek the power that lies
in government positions.
"Minorities ... will not have power so long as they
themselves don't seek it out," Gulam said.
Lee said that minorities have problems getting
excited about the political system due to a general
distrust and apathy of the system.
He also said that not just minorities feel intimi-
dated on MSA. An unfriendly atmosphere is created
because representatives are not familiar with one
another, he added.
"When you're a minority in an assembly full
of people that are different from you, and the
environment is already relatively unfriendly,
then it kind of compounds the issue of trying to
get work done as a minority," Lee said. "It isn't
an issue specific to minorities, but as a minority,
it's a lot worse for us."
Continued from page 1A
Jukaku, who is the vice president of Muslim Students'.
Association, voiced similar concerns, worrying that non-
Muslims may "see a Muslim woman with a hijab on the
street (and) think that some man in their life - be it their
husband or their father - is controlling them and that they
don't have a mind of their own."
In reality, many Muslim women in the United States
make the very important decision for themselves. For LSA
junior Lubna Grewal, the decision to wear hijab came in high
school, after she decided to give Islam a more prominent role
in her life. Grewal's sister, who is 8 years older than she, does
not wear hijab, and thus Grewal was the first woman in her
family to observe the modesty laws. Despite this, she said,
her family has always fully supported her.
"It was completely my decision," she said. "My family
didn't know, but they supported me. I've never regretted it."
For both Grewal and Jukaku, the decision to wear hijab is
deeply rooted in their faith.
"I think that it's my religious duty to wear it," said Grewal,
adding that the vast majority of interpretations of the Quran,
the Islamic holy book, dictate that women wear hijab.
Jukaku agreed. "I want to follow what God has told me
to do," she said, adding that wearing hijab also has practical
benefits, as her modesty allows her to be appreciated for her
intelligence rather than her physical appearance.
Grewal said she feels wearing hijab is actually an
"A lot of times women are judged first on how they look
and then how they think," she said, adding that hijab "makes
me a person before it makes me an object."
Like any religious practice, Grewal said wearing hijab
is easy at times and hard at others. "Around Sept. 11 it
was extremely difficult (to wear hijab) because there was
so much negative association with Muslims and especially
with women who wear hijab," she said, adding that it is
easier for people to discriminate against Muslim women
than anyone else, because "the second they see me they
know I'm Muslim."
Scholars have voiced this opinion too, saying that anti-
Muslim sentiments are a reality in the United States. The
veil has become "a visible marker for Muslim identity," said
Naber. She went on to describe various ways hijab has been
falsely linked to stereotypes of Muslim women. "People
assume that women who wear the veil are foreign," she said.
"Women in my research have said that people are surprised
they speak English without an accent."
Another, perhaps more dangerous stereotype placed upon
"women in the veil," is that by wearing the veil and being
Muslim, they are associated with terrorism. Since Sept. 11
and the war in Iraq, Naber said women wearing hijab were
"impacted by hate crimes and harassment on the street more
than any other group of people," adding that young Muslim
girls reported being called "Sister of Saddam," or "Daughter
of Osama" in their classrooms.
This discrimination exists against women in the adult
world as well. Grewal said she knew of a friend who was
not hired for a teaching job in metro-Detroit because of her
hijab. "Someone on the board (of education) didn't want A
Muslim teaching their children," she said.
Jukaku said she had similar concerns when interview-
ing for business internships this past winter. "I was actually
scared that I would be discriminated (against)," she said. "I
have had numerous interviews, but I actually have an intern-
ship over the summer in conservative corporate America. I
was actually very pleased by that," she said, adding that it
was encouraging to see some employers could look past her
clothing and value her abilities. "At least the places I inter-
viewed at, wearing hijab is not issue," she said.
While wearing hijab may present some obstacles for Gre-
wal and Jukaku, they still choose to make it a part of their
live, and reject the falsehood that it is a decision made for
them. "Its kind of disheartening that there is an image of
Muslim women not being able to think for themselves," Gre-
wal said. "Why can't I be the one making the decision, why
does it have to be someone else?"
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