As a Muslim, to those who have stood up against Trump, thank you

I am proud of who I am

You know when you are 18 and you think your parents are from the stone age and know nothing about this world? I felt exactly the same when my father told me that I could apply to a university anywhere in the world except for the United States of America. I never understood why on earth would he voluntarily give up the opportunity of me applying for scholarship in the states and instead prefer to pay for the whole fee in the UK (since UK unis are not as generous with scholarships). Well, now I know.

Even though I am not from one of the seven countries President Trump has banned yet I am Muslim and proudly show that off with my hijab that I fearlessly wear and the ban affects me just as much. My mother practically begged me to quit hijab before I moved to the UK and my father refused to let me take my abaya to university with me which I need for praying.

When I was asked to write this article I took it as the perfect opportunity to tell the world about all my experiences with racism and discrimination. Be it when this woman wouldn’t let her daughter sit next to me on the bus in Brighton or when a taxi driver in Manchester refused to provide service and instead, in fact, locked the doors when I tried to get in.

However, when I went to my first class of the term yesterday, one of my white friends came up to me and actually apologised to me for the ban. Of course it isn’t their place to do that, but to know that there are people who refuse to give into the hate that was so sweet and so genuine. I was deeply touched.

Later that evening I attended the demonstration against the ban in the Brighton city centre. In all honesty, I was expecting to see a huge mob of people with their heads covered with hijabs or bearded Muslim men carrying posters and signs. But I couldn’t hide my surprise when I saw the majority to be white. So instead, I would like this to be an open letter of sorts to everyone who came.

Thank you. Thank you all so much for standing up against this. Thank you for voicing your opinions on Theresa May’s silence on this. I have never been more in love with Brighton before. Especially when I saw so many students from Sussex University and more so when I saw two of my seminar tutors from last term. It only goes to show how open-minded and accepting everyone is. I am so grateful that I chose Sussex. Perhaps the best part is that it wasn’t even initiated by an Islamic Centre or the Islamic community of Brighton but by three individuals who aren’t even Muslim.

Thank you to all those who brought their children to the demos on a Monday night. I do not know how effective this was. I do not know if it will or can change anything but I am hopeful that at least the future generation of the people who voted for Brexit would be different and more accepting.

And for those who genuinely believe that majority of Muslims are terrorists and have a bomb hidden under their hijab, I give you a formal invitation to come and talk to me and I will clarify any and all misconceptions you may have. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to give the Qura’an a read. You would get the context of all misinterpreted verses that are used against us. It’s a book, give it a chance and read it.

To be honest, the fact that I am writing this can prove to be extremely dangerous. I was advised by practically everyone in my family and members of the Pakistan embassy in the UK  to not write it and to stay away from this issue but I truly believe that truth must be spoken and if you have a voice, you must use it wisely.

Ban ignorance, not immigrants.