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Young Writers Project: 'To All The People Who Hate Muslims'

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the American people the right to freedom of religion - but that is not to say that bigotry does not persist in our midst, as this week's 13-year-old poet Narges Anzali, of Weybridge, points out.
YWP Media Library, photo featuring Narges Anzali
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The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the American people the right to freedom of religion - but that is not to say that bigotry does not persist in our midst, as this week's 13-year-old poet Narges Anzali, of Weybridge, points out.

To all the people who hate Muslims:
Do I scare you? They call it Islamophobia after all.

Do I scare you? Does my family scare you?
Let me give you a summary of us,
in case you don’t really know us all that well:
There’s me,
standing at about 5 feet 2 inches,
with big, bushy, fuzzy hair,
and a penchant for zoning out
and always having graphite-stained fingers.
There’s my sister,
10 years old,
who once made her own little snack dispenser
out of a cardboard box and some tape.
There’s my father,
who makes us pancakes in the mornings,
who loves gardening and prides himself
on making food out of our own vegetables in the summers.
And there’s my mother,
who drinks more tea than seems humanly possible,
who’s just finishing up her dissertation now,
and who loves dancing to any song, anywhere.

Are you scared of us?
Because that seems a little silly at this point, doesn’t it?
You tell everyone that you’re scared –
scared that your culture is going to be gone,
scared we’ll bomb you,
scared that we won’t assimilate.

But you know what?
I don’t think you’re really scared.
I think you’re angry.
Angry,
because you have lost people you knew,
and for this I cannot blame you.
Angry,
because we speak with the wisps
of foreign places on our tongues,
and you cannot love what you have never seen.  
Angry,
because you hear of things that are done
and you do not understand them,
and confusion is often the source of hatred.

So, no, I do not think you are scared.
I think you are angry with people
you have never met in your life,
never talked to in your life –
and isn’t that a bit weird?
But hey, I’m not here
to tell you how to live your lives, no.

But just consider this:
I am scared.
I am scared when I walk down the street at night.
Whenever someone is behind me,
I hold my phone to my ear
oh-so-tightly
and pretend that I am talking.
I am scared whenever I see someone
wearing a red hat.
I quickly scan the words,
feel my heart skip a beat
when it’s not what I’m expecting.
I am scared whenever I watch the news,
hoping that we will not be forced
to identify ourselves with badges,
repeating history –
my God, what has it come to?

I’m scared.
And maybe in your minds you feel that is an accomplishment.
Maybe some kind of sick, twisted sense of satisfaction
will fill you when you read these words.
But there shouldn't be any.
Because I am a 13-year-old girl.
You’ve made a 13-year-old girl scared.
Do you feel accomplished?
You’ve made my 10-year-old sister afraid.
Do you feel accomplished?
You’ve made my mother cry.
Do you feel accomplished?
You’ve made my father feel like he can’t function.
Do you feel accomplished?

I bow down to a God you think is not yours,
and who you hate.
I sing prayers in a language that is not yours,
and which you hate.
I fast for a month to understand
the struggles of the poor,
a practice you hate…
All because you got your information about Islam
from old and outdated beliefs.
So you hate.

And yet, didn't the Bible say,
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"?
Well, we are your neighbors.
We are the people who run your local supermarket or dollar store,
we are the people who teach you,
we are the people who are your students and friends.
We are everywhere, and yet you never noticed us
because your version of Islam is some monster
that you have built up in your mind.
And hey, I'm not saying that we're perfect –
but neither are you.

And there's something fundamentally wrong
with this conversation we're having,
because I should not be asking you to not hate us.
It is my right to live in happiness,
and it is my right to practice my religion.

So don't tell me that I am a monster
for praying and loving and simply existing.
Don't tell me that my religion is an ideology,
when you say that yours isn't.

I guess what I'm trying to say
to all the people who hate Muslims
is that I don't hate you.
I just want you to understand,
and I don't want to be scared anymore.
Please don't let me be scared anymore.
Open your eyes – bring a little love to the table.
And as much as I hate this,
I'm begging you to not be angry anymore.

Love,
me.
 

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