Muslim-Americans experience adversity and acceptance

By Victoria Wilson
Pulse Staff Reporter

VWilsonIt’s no secret that in light of the rising conflicts in the Middle East, some people have become wary of those of the Muslim faith.

Governor Greg Abbott made it clear in his letter to President Obama that he did not approve of Syrian refugees calling Texas home.

In Texas, there are 31 military installations, seven in San Antonio. Lackland Air Force Base works very closely with the Saudi military as well as many other Middle Eastern countries, so it isn’t uncommon to see someone of Middle Eastern descent walking around town.

Samar Al-Maloof is a student at TAMUSA. Her parents relocated to the United States in late 2002 when she was six years old.

“I hardly remember 9/11, but I do remember shortly after that parents would give me weird looks when picking up their kids from school. I never really understood why,” Al-Maloof said.

Her parents had fled Palestine in order to escape rising tensions, fearing for the well-being of their children.

“When I was younger, I felt ashamed to wear a hijab, but I now understand my culture and am a proud Muslim woman,” she said.

Al-Maloof said she believes she’s been treated no differently than anyone else.

“I feel like your average college student, but I think growing up here in America has given me a newfound sense of confidence,” she said.

Al-Maloof said she is a proud Texan and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Not every experience is positive for every Muslim. Ignorance and fear breed hate and because of uncertainty, people resort to violence and hate speech.

Another interviewee and his family left Syria when he was 15, just three years ago. He did not wish to be identified. His father passed away shortly after coming to the states.

“Kids would tell me they were glad my father died and that my family should do the same,” he said. “We were constantly being called racist names. I tried my best to shelter my brother and sister from the hatred, but I could only do so much.”

His family received threats, and his mother cried every day, questioning if they had made the right decision.

“One morning I went to take out the trash, bacon plastered our front porch…I don’t hate this country, but I feel embarrassed for those who are this ignorant,” he said.

Dakhil Sarraf was born in Texas, but his father is from Baghdad and his mother from Jordan. Sarraf’s father was insistent on keeping true to his roots, so he grew up in a very traditional household.

“I remember 9/11 well. We were moving from Houston to San Antonio. My father told me if anybody asked, I was Mexican. He told us to be inconspicuous. It was the first time I heard fear in his voice.”

Sarraf has never experienced ill will or hatred.

“My friends know I’m Muslim, but honestly, they don’t care. I think sometimes they forget,” he said.

His outlook seemed cheerful and he had a smile on his face the entire interview.

“My name is Dakhil. In English it means stranger. Just because we don’t share the same beliefs doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, just different. That’s what makes this country great. Everybody has the ability to choose,” he said.