Is It Safe for a Muslim Woman to Wear the Hijab in America?

Everybody has heard about the tragic Trayvon Martin murder. Far fewer, however, are aware of the brutal killing of Shaima Alawadi, an Iraqi-born American citizen and mother of five, in her home near San Diego. There are conflicting reports about the facts of the crime. In some accounts, a note was found at the scene, reading: “This is my country. Go back to yours, terrorist.”

This is a very complicated homicide investigation. While some have labeled the killing a hate crime,others have speculated that it was merely made to look like one. None of that, of course, changes the devastating truth that a young woman and mother has been murdered.


In our video today, we discuss some of the specifics of the case with an eye towards probing deeper questions: What is it like for a Muslim-American woman to wear a hijab in public? Does this particular religious attire render its wearers vulnerable to verbal and physical violence? Or, is the United States living up to its ethos of tolerance for religious minorities?

Our guest, Dr. Jerusha Lamptey, addresses many of these questions as she reflects on her own experiences as a convert to Islam who now wears the hijab. She focuses on a paradox that confronts her on a quotidian basis: Even though she was born and raised in the United States, the donning of this piece of symbolic cloth indelibly marks her as foreign in the eyes of her compatriots.

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