Source: Huffington Post
By Deedra Abboud, who is an attorney and expert on the art and science of finding solutions, not fault – at work, at home, and in the community.
Residents are prepared to make our state a model for others hoping to affirm human rights and justice for all.
It is a strange time to be a minority in America. The past decade has seen unprecedented gains for women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and other minority groups. Yet the same 10 years have been pockmarked by unjust police violence, simmering racial tensions and, in recent months, increasingly divisive policies being codified into law. Inspired by how far we have come and motivated by how far we need to go, I decided to run for the U.S. Senate.
While perhaps another female candidate would have to endure endless comments about her shrillness or appearance, a Latino candidate might be grilled about his legal status or a black candidate might be bombarded with images of nooses, for me it is always about my religion.
I am a proud American-Muslim woman.
My religion is not something I can hide, nor is it something I would choose to hide. Much like a Catholic wearing a crucifix, a Jew donning a kippa or a Sikh wearing a turban, I display my religion openly. My scarf does not define me, but it is a part of my story. And that story is a complex one, especially in today’s political climate.
I knew when I entered politics many would see me as “The Muslim Candidate” and nothing else. I am not the Muslim candidate. I am an American candidate, a Democratic candidate, a grassroots candidate and, yes, I happen to be Muslim. I also happen to believe in the separation of religion and state and that my religious beliefs must and shall remain entirely separate from any political office I am lucky enough to earn. Many politicians of many faiths would do well to remember this themselves.
When I decided to run for U.S Senate, I knew I would face hurdles other candidates do not. Out of fear for my safety, my husband told me it would be okay with him if I removed my scarf. I replied that I didn’t put the scarf on for him, and I didn’t need his permission to take it off.
Ultimately, this is what being Muslim in America is about. Being Muslim is about the American story, because being Muslim in America is about being free.
Being Muslim in America means having the right to wear the scarf or not wear the scarf, because here, no one can tell us how we must worship or dress.
Being Muslim in America means the freedom to protest unjust travel bans while being surrounded by Jews who protect us when we pause to pray, because here we have a voice, and here we have allies.
Being Muslim in America means the freedom to marry who we choose, regardless of that person’s race, religion or gender, because here, love is love.
Being Muslim in America means the freedom to join our military to defend our country. It means the freedom to fight ISIS, who are not Muslims, as well as others who commit terror in the name of Islam. We will not allow them to spread their false message of hatred, intolerance and oppression.
Because being Muslim in America is about being free.