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January 20, 2012

Living the Muslim life in NYC Part II

by Simple Muslimah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

It’s been a while since I’ve been here, nearing a decade almost.

Fortunately, it’s been pretty smooth for me in terms of living here without any serious problems just because I’m a Muslim. I, honestly, have never been stopped by the police on the street, in school, leaving the masjid, or wherever. And, I’d like to believe I do look like a Muslim man from ten feet away. However, remember that cloud of fear? Yeah, it does get gloomy from time to time.

From the outside, things look fine, the sun is shining and everyone’s going about their business, but it really isn’t that way. Just recently, we found out that the New York Police Department (NYPD) was keeping an eye on students in specific colleges across the city. No, not just any students, guess who? Yeah, Muslim students! This is actually a big deal, because they aren’t allowed to do that to anyone, let alone students in academic institutions. It’s against the law. So, what happens when the law enforcement breaks the law? You won’t be surprised to hear this: Nothing! It appears they’ve just swept the whole issue under the carpet.

Things do happen in the background, from bearded men being searched on the street to people showing up on your doorstep just for a “friendly chat.” I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is the norm, though.

The people of New York as a whole are open-minded and friendly almost always. Alhamdulillah. You won’t find many people who’ll give you a dirty look for wearing a burqa or walking around in a thoub. It’s very common here. I think people don’t even notice you, even if you’re standing next to them on the subway or a shop. Again, I suppose, this comes with the diversity of the city. Muslims get along fine with everyone in schools, universities, workplace, parks… really, any public place. Many New Yorkers even spoke up in favor of Muslims to construct a masjid near the site of World Trade Center. That really shows the solidarity between different groups of people of this city from so many different nationalities.

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