Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Hijab, Bullies, and a Do-Nothing School System

Terrorists aren't nice. Neither are bullies. They both do naughty things.

Some people brought up in Muslim communities are terrorists. Some people brought up in Christian communities are bullies.

But, and this is important, not all Muslims are terrorists, and not all Christians are bullies.

Wear that Scarf, Jana Elhifny, and You Will Die

Specifically, Jana Elhifny was told that she would be killed in a school stairwell, if she wore a heard scarf: the sort of headgear that quite a few varieties of Islam require for women. This particular article of clothing is a hijab.

The school administration did - nothing. According to Jana Elhifny, her friend Stephanie Hart, and a court that awarded them a total of $400,000 in damages.

A spokesperson for the school said "The district did an incredibly thorough investigation," (FOXNews) which may be true, depending on exactly which definition of "incredibly" is used, and how it is interpreted.

The school rep claims that Jana couldn't identify the tormentor(s) by sex, size, or voice. Which may or may not be true.

Think About It

Imagine that you're an older high school student, in a country where they don't speak your language, and don't share most of your customs. You're accosted by a half-dozen or so of the natives. They threaten your life while urging you to abandon your religious practices. It all takes less than a minute.

Quick: give a detailed description of each one of them. In that second language you picked up. To an authority who may or may not give any indication of being willing to believe your story.

Some Muslima Won a Court Case: So What?

Jana Elhifny is married now, and living back in Egypt.

God be thanked, her experience in America included one person who wasn't depraved or indifferent. And, the American court system recognized the injustice done to her.

On the other hand, Jana didn't have an entirely positive experience in this country. And she'll carry those memories with her for the rest of her life. My hope is that she'll tell about the good, as well as the depraved, to her children.

Hijabs, Rosaries: Why Can't Those People Leave Us Alone?

America has been a predominantly Protestant country, although that's changing. The Protestant branch of Christianity does not encourage - or, in some cases, tolerate - the use of religious symbols: except within very narrowly prescribed limits.

I'm a Catholic.

Right now, I'm wearing a 'chaplet' - a small crucifix on a length of knotted cord - around my neck. It's visible, although not glaringly so. After this week, I may take it off - it's part of a Lenten observance for me. On the other hand, I may keep wearing it for a while. It's an excellent reminder for me, of what I believe.

I live in a community that's almost entirely Catholic, so I don't stand out all that much. Not all Catholics living in America have it that nice.
Being a Religious Minority Has Advantages
Being a Catholic in a country that's overwhelmingly Protestant or secular has let me experience - to a tiny extent - what people in other non-majority faiths live with.

That may be why I'm as sympathetic as I am toward Muslimas who wear hijabs, Sheiks who grow beards, and people who wear turbans.

Because of choices I made, and am content with, I'm one of 'those people' too.

Related posts: In the news:


Brigid said...

That wasn't nice at all.

Oh, and you missed an end parenthesis after the Fox News reference.

Brian H. Gill said...


Not nice at all. And, on the school admin's part, abysmally stupid. Treating foreigners like 'foreigners' never was acceptable behavior (Dt. 5:17, for example): and these days it can be very, very, expensive.

I found - and corrected - 3 other typos. Thanks!

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.