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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Solidarity Action in the wake of a Possible Hate Crime


A few weeks ago, Alia Ansari, a Muslim woman, wearing a hijab (headscarf), was shot in the head as she walked to a nearby school with her three year old to pick up some of her other six kids. The killer got back into a car and drove off quickly though witnesses got the license plate # and police have been holding a Hispanic suspect. Unclear if he was in that car. Unclear if it was a hate crime.

One thing that is clear is that Muslims are frightened and insecure in Fremont, CA where it happened and where the largest concentration of Afghani emigres have settled. ("The Kite Runner" - bestselling novel - is, in part, about that community.)

There was a public forum with the chief of police. No information about whether it looked like a hate crime was given out. A Muslim organization came up with a "Wear the Hijab or Turban Day" as a way that people in the Fremont community could show their support for the safety of their Muslim neighbors. Given that we are just across the bay in Palo Alto, I wrote an email to a number of people connected to our schools and various agencies to encourage our own participation, as a demonstration of neighborly support and a way for us to stay proactively sensitive about acts of intolerance. I got back some feedback that wearing a hijab would be uncomfortable given that some Muslim regimes force women to wear them. The ACLU Chapter Board (of which I'm a member) declined to endorse the Fremont event. I wrote a second email suggesting we wear armbands or pin a card with Alia's name on it to our shirt and that we join in a moment of silence at noon with those in Fremont, and send them emails. Tomorrow is the day. I believe there will be about six small groups of folks doing this in various places in the community, including students at Palo Alto High School and members from a couple of churches, as well as some individuals. I'll be meeting some folks at the Media Center.

You have to have a thick skin to publicly suggest a community action.

4 comments:

  1. My office mates and I are in hijab today at Stanford. Thanks for your suggestion, and I'm sorry people are so worried about repercussions that they can't step outside themselves.

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  2. Some colleagues and I are wearing hijabs today at Stanford in support for, memory of, or just to start a conversation about our differences and our similarities. Thanks for your suggestion, and I am sorry that people are so afraid to step outside their cultural bubbles.

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  3. Thank you for writing Nette. I'd like to hear what your experience was like for you and your colleagues. I wore an armband I made with Alia's name on it. I had done it intending to support a community that is reportedly frightened after the murder of a woman wearing a hijab, but I realized during the day, that it was just as much a way to prompt myself not to remain silent when others are hurt or victims of injustice.

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  4. Dear Elliot,

    May your courage and bravery be increased for your noble efforts.

    We pray that Sister Alia's soul will be elevated to the highest levels of Heaven.

    Seeking paradise,
    Su and Mikael

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