Man Arrested In Spain For Murder Of Aya Hachem After ‘Fleeing To Portugal’

Aya Hachem was shot and killed as she walked near Lidl Supermarket in Blackburn on May 17th.

Manchester Evening News reported that a 30-year-old man was arrested in Spain on suspicion of the murder of 19-year-old Aya Hachem on July 4.

The 30-year-old was arrested after a European Arrest Warrant was executed in the holiday resort of Fuengirola.

Prior to his arrest, the man first fled to Portugal using his brother’s passport, before hiding out on the Costa Del Sol with his girlfriend, Spanish police revealed.

Aya Hachem was shot and killed as she walked near Lidl Supermarket in Blackburn on May 17th.

The man is being held on suspicion of murder and the attempted murder of the man police believe was the target of the drive-by shooting that killed Hachem.

A spokesman for Spain’s National Police said on July 8 that, “Police have arrested a fugitive on foot of a European Arrest Warrant in Fuengirola.”

The spokesman added, “Further investigation led to the identification of the vehicle he was using, leading officers to trace the route he took through the South of Spain.”

The man is currently subject to the extradition process so he can be brought back to Lancashire and be charged with the offenses.

READ MORE: Two Men Charged With The Murder Of Aya Hachem

Kansas City Gun Range Denies Muslim Woman Entry Because Of Her Hijab

"Hats, caps, bandanas, or any other head covering will be removed in the facility, except baseball caps facing forward.” She was told by the range's manager that keeping her scarf would pose a safety risk.

A Kansas City area gun range is under fire for violating the civil rights of a local Muslim woman by not allowing her into the facility unless she removed her hijab earlier this year.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is demanding the U.S. Department of Justice launch an investigation into the denial of services by Frontier Justice during an incident earlier this year at one of their gun ranges located at 800 NE Jones Industrial Dr in Lee Summit, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri.

Rania Barakat shared her experience in a video conference on Facebook Live with CAIR this past Thursday. The incident, which took place on January 1, unfolded after an hour long wait on  a busy New Year’s Day out with her husband, who had used the range in the past with friends. When the couple approached the cashier to pay, they were told by staff that she must remove her hijab in order to use the facilities. 

Barakat stated that she’d shot at other gun ranges in the past without any issue. Frontier Justice employees cited the company’s dress code policy, which is listed on its website, “Hats, caps, bandanas, or any other head covering will be removed in the facility, except baseball caps facing forward.” She was told by the range’s manager that keeping her scarf would pose a safety risk. The couple left once it became clear they weren’t going to be let in.

Afterwards, Barakat said she went online to leave a review only to discover that other hijabis in her community had encountered a similar experience at the range, some she even knew personally. 

“The law demands equal access to public accommodations regardless of your race, color, religion and national origin,” said CAIR attorney Zanah Ghalawanji. “Frontier Justice has disregarded and violated the civil rights protections by actively excluding Muslim women who wear the hijab from their business.”

The company, whose website denotes its core values of “Faith, Family and Freedom,” has facilities in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas. Their site also makes note of their involvement in Christian education, which leads one to believe they would be more sensitive to issues of religious expression. 

“To have this happen to me personally, it was very sad and, you know, frustrating,” Barakat said. “And I would never want anyone to go through what I went through.”

In Thursday’s conference, Moussa Elbayoumy, chairman of CAIR’s Kansas board, mentioned that the chapter had received other reports around the same time from other hijabis who were also told they had to remove their scarves in order to shoot at the same location. He stated that the range’s policy isn’t based on any legitimate safety concerns, and is deliberately meant to exclude Muslim women.

“Frontier Justice, you know, says they value faith, family and freedom,” Zanah Ghalawanji, a CAIR National attorney said in the conference. “That appears to be their motto, but, however, their actions tell us that they have shown otherwise.”

You can read CAIR’s letter to the Department of Justice in full here or donate to support Barakat’s legal defense via their official fundraiser.

READ MORE: Bangladeshi Tech CEO Fahim Saleh Found Dismembered In New York Apartment

Bangladeshi Tech CEO Fahim Saleh Found Dismembered In New York Apartment

Saleh was last seen on camera getting into the elevator in his apartment building accompanied by a man dressed in all black, who, according to police, is the suspected assailant.

New York, New York – Fahim Saleh, 33-year-old tech entrepreneur, venture capitalist and founder of Gokada and Pathao – ride sharing companies – was found dismembered in his New York apartment on July 14th.

The NYPD confirmed a man had been found dead Tuesday in an apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Saleh was last seen on camera footage on the evening of July 12th getting into the elevator in his apartment building accompanied by a man dressed in all black, who, according to police, is the suspected assailant. The elevator in Saleh’s building goes straight into his luxury condo, the source said.

When Saleh’s sister went to check on him, found his torso in an area next to the living room, the official said. Other parts of his body were found stuffed into individual bags in the apartment, the source said

Who was Fahim Saleh?

The 33-year old, son of Bangladeshi immigrants, was a tech savvy person who created his first company PrankDial.com while still in high school. He later went on to co-found a ride-sharing company Pathao, which is a popular service in Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2018 he helped found Nigerian motorbike taxi app Gokada. And very recently, he also founded a venture capital firm Adventure Capital which invested in ride-sharing start-ups in countries like Bangladesh and Colombia.

Saleh’s family confirmed his death in a statement.

“The headlines talk about a crime we still cannot fathom,” the statement said. “Fahim is more than what you are reading. He is so much more. His brilliant and innovative mind took everyone who was a part of his world on a journey and he made sure never to leave anyone behind.”

“There are no words or actions to provide any of us comfort except the capture of the person who exhibited nothing short of evil upon our loved one,” the statement continued.

“We need and urge the NYPD and other members of law enforcement to work diligently to get to the bottom of this horrific crime and bring justice for Fahim,” his family said.

Both of the companies were founded by Saleh. His Pathao co-founder Hussein M Elius paid tribute to the passionate tech-entrepreneur.

Saleh’s personal assistant 21-year-old Tyrese Devon Haspil was arrested Friday in connection to the death of the tech-entrepreneur. He allegedly owed Saleh tens of thousands of dollars and was on a repayment plan. 

Haspil was arrested Friday morning outside a building in the city’s SoHo neighborhood,  NYPD Detectives Chief Rodney Harrison said during a news briefing Friday. He is charged with second-degree murder and other charges. Haspil was Saleh’s executive assistant and “handled his finances and personal matters,” Harrison said. “It is also believed that he owed the victim a significant amount of money.”

Reportedly Saleh recently discovered that Haspil — who’d worked for him for five years — stole roughly $90,000 from him. After which he decided to fire Haspil and offer to set up a repayment plan. 

Police told the Times Haspil, dressed in a black three-piece suit, followed Saleh into the key-card secured elevator that led to his seventh-floor apartment and attacked him when the elevator stopped. He disabled Saleh with a taser, and stabbed him several times in the neck and torso.

The horrid killing shocked neighbors and the tech and venture capital worlds, where Fahim Saleh, a founding partner at Adventure Capital, cultivated a reputation as an energetic and creative businessman who specialized in direct investment in developing nations – with his ride-hailing apps in Nigeria and Bangladesh being worth more than hundreds of millions of dollars.

READ MORE: It Empowered Me To Fight Even More: Alaa Massri’s Charges Dropped But She Isn’t Backing Down

Salma Lakhani: Canada Appoints First Muslim Woman Lieutenant-Governor

Salma Lakhani is the first muslim woman to be appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Canada.

The Canadian Liberal government has named Salma Lakhani as the next lieutenant-governor of Alberta, making her the first ever Muslim to hold the position in Canadian history.

Lieutenant-governors are the highest ranking officers in each province. They carry out various official duties, including: swearing in the premier and cabinet, opening each session of the legislative assembly and signing bills into laws.

Ms. Lakhani has lived in Edmonton for more than 40 years and has long served as a community advocate focused on issues including education, health care, immigration, human rights and has “dedicated her life to helping people in need and those who faces obstacles to succeed in our society,” said the Prime Minister’s office in a news release.

Ms. Lakhani obtained an honors degree in clinical biochemistry from the University of Manchester. In 2005, she was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal for outstanding achievements in the province and in 2012, she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal honoring service to Canada. 

“Ms. Lakhani is devoted to supporting people in her community, from new immigrants and young people to women and families,” the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau said in a written statement. “As Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, I know she will serve the people of her province and our country well, and continue to be a source of inspiration for all Canadians.”

READ MORE: Raffia Arshad Becomes The UK’s First Hijab-Wearing Judge

Hasan Minhaj Breaks Down The Yemen Crisis On ‘Patriot Act’

The episode in which was banned across Saudi Arabia last year, makes rounds on social media for its relevancy on Yemen.

Hasan Minhaj Breaks Down The Yemen Crisis On ‘Patriot Act’

The episode in which was banned across Saudi Arabia last year, makes rounds on social media for its relevancy on Yemen.

By

Nawal Qadir
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

The crisis in Yemen, while only recently trending, has been ongoing for years now, and comedian Hasan Minhaj has not shied away from it. As he does with most issues, Minhaj vocalized his concerns for the country on his show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, as a sub point during his episode covering Saudi Arabia, as the episode’s named. 

Minhaj gave a comprehensive run-down on the situation in Yemen, highlighting how the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman, commonly known as MBS, escalated the tensions in the country to its current boiling point. 

READ MORE: Here Is Everything Happening In Yemen Right Now

 

 

Now, the entire episode can be found on Netflix (in volume 2 of the show), but let’s talk about why it’s so important. Minhaj’s look into Saudi Arabia, and the atrocities it so commonly commits, is an incredibly lacking take in Western media, when considering the fact that it’s coming from a Muslim man. It’s accepted in the West, and America especially, that Saudi Arabia isn’t a friendly state to human rights, but what is most often overlooked is how destructive Saudi is to its own community. 

As Minhaj points out in the episode, the relationship that most Muslims across the world have with Saudi is a confusing one. We accept it as the hub of our religion, yet most of us are vocal of our opposition towards the country. Minhaj detailing the latter fact is incredibly important on a platform like Netflix, whose main audience is Western countries, given that much of the Western world’s perception of Islam and it’s followers is borne out of Saudi’s actions. 

By creating a space where Muslims can openly converse about their feelings towards a country that’s meant to serve as the center for their religion, Minhaj offers a chance to flip an outdated and largely untrue script. The one that says that most Muslims stand with Saudi Arabia in its oppression. 

In truth, most Muslims claim to Saudi extends as far as it being the country that houses Mecca, and we tend to be as outraged at Saudi’s actions as the rest of the world. 

What’s more, Minhaj’s show offers a reliable source to center the conversation about Yemen around. He truthfully depicts the major roles of, not just Saudi Arabia, but Iran and America in the crisis. 

The attention that’s been surrounding Yemen on social media lately, while important, is largely incomplete. Yemen isn’t just starving, it’s being starved. The conditions are born out of three major conflicts, propagated by three major countries who are all comfortable destroying Yemen as long as it continues to promise benefit for them. Minhaj’s show addresses these faults head on, laying the groundwork for genuine advocacy for Yemen to take place. If you haven’t already seen it, take a look because, believe me, it’s worth your time. 

 

One Year Later: The Effects Of Quebec’s Ban On Religious Symbols

Quebec Lawyer Nour Farhat tells Muslim.co how the Bill has restricted her way of life over the past year.

One Year Later: The Effects Of Quebec’s Ban On Religious Symbols

Quebec Lawyer Nour Farhat tells Muslim.co how the Bill has restricted her way of life over the past year.

By

Wali Ahmad
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

 

A year ago on June 16, 2019, Quebec’s government passed Bill 21, a law which banned public sector workers from wearing religious symbols in the workplace. The law was passed despite Canada’s protection of the right to religious freedom, guaranteed by its Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The government invoked the “notwithstanding clause”, which allows the province to override a Charter right for any reason it chooses.

While the government argued that the measure was necessary to ensure secularism (no religious influence) within the province’s public services, many were forced to choose between their faith and their livelihood. One such person was Nour Farhat, who is all too familiar with the adverse, discriminatory effects the Bill has had on her personal and professional life over the past year.

Plans and Dreams Derailed

Farhat, who wears a hijab, has been a lawyer in Quebec since 2017. Born and raised in Montreal, she has lived her life under the protection of the right to freedom of religion, never imagining that this right would come into conflict with her career goals.

“Since I finished my Bachelor of Law in 2016, I knew I wanted to work in the public service,” she told Muslim. “I completed my Master of Laws in Criminal Law with the purpose and intention of becoming a Crown Prosecutor.” Crown Prosecutors are hired by the province of Quebec, and are therefore subject to the religious symbol restrictions put in place by Bill 21. 

“Two months before completing my Master’s degree in June 2019, Bill 21 became a law,” she said. “I still had two months to finish my degree. I remember thinking at this moment, ‘Why am I doing my Masters? What is the point if I won’t be able to work for the Crown?’ And it became very discouraging and difficult to finish those last two months of my degree.”

In Quebec, the lawyer licensing process is expensive, can take anywhere between 4 – 7 years and requires years of hard work and mental endurance. For individuals like Farhat, all that money and effort spent on working towards a legal position in the public service was immediately put at risk as she was forced to choose between her dreams and her faith. “I spent money and moved to another city to do my Master’s,” Farhat said. “All year I would complain about how difficult it was. I’d always tell myself it would be worth it once I’m a Crown Prosecutor. Then in June 2019, I got told that this dream would remain only a dream.”

Increasingly Discriminatory and Racist Attitudes

Speaking of Quebec’s history of discrimination prior to the enactment of Bill 21, Farhat emphasizes that the Bill only legitimized existing racist mentalities.

“The government has given a legitimacy to these kinds of racist, Islamophobic attitudes. People feel justified to act a certain way because they know the government is on their side. They know that people like me – people who wear religious symbols – are in a weak position and should not be allowed to work for the province,” she said. “They know that their dreams and their future is affected. It is a very vulnerable position to be in.”

Since the enactment of Bill 21 just over a year ago, Farhat has definitely noticed a shift in the province’s socio-political environment. “The environment has been very heavy. You receive comments from people online and in the streets about your hijab. You receive comments on your hijab from strangers and even people you know. Each time the government makes a law or a bill against religious people, you see it in the streets, you see it in the people, you see that they’re affected. They become more prone to being openly racist.” 

The phenomenon draws many similarities to the racial tensions fueled by the divisive policies of the latest United States government. Led by a President that has openly promoted discriminatory laws and policies, his supporters have become more open in expressing their racist, Islamophobic and otherwise discriminatory sentiments. “There’s a definite duality in being categorized as either a white person or an ‘other’ when it comes to going in front of the police or others in positions of power. They don’t view freedom of religion of religious minorities as something that is as important as the freedoms of the majority. It’s the majority deciding the destiny of the minority,” says Farhat in light of the current global civil rights movement led by Black Lives Matter.

“We have laws that protect us as minorities, like the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You see that the police are not applying it equally. They do arrest more black, indigenous and Arab people in Canada. And this type of disproportionate treatment is further strengthened against religious minorities through the existence of discriminatory laws like Bill 21.”

“What does the government expect when they violate your rights like that? When they violate the freedom of religion? When you violate someone’s freedom to make a living? All the intended and unintended consequences of Bill 21 were all very predictable – it resulted in open racism and discrimination being made acceptable. Even though Francois Legault [Premier of Quebec] said there isn’t racism in here, I can personally say that I am experiencing systemic racism.” 

Farhat is referring to Legault’s refusal to acknowledge systemic racism within the province in light of the Black Lives Matter and civil rights movements which have rapidly grown across the globe. “For me, we have Quebecers of different colors, different origins, but we are all human beings and we’re all equals, no exceptions. But we must face the reality and the problems lived by some of our fellow citizens, and we must act,” said Legault, despite spearheading the law which effectively renders religious minorities unequal to the majority population.

“There’s racism in the law. This is something I’m living every day. It’s not just the law, it’s affecting all aspects of my life,” said Farhat, referring to the countless amount of hate messages she receives online on a daily basis.

Quebec also makes the argument that Christians are equally affected and therefore, the law doesn’t explicitly target the Muslim, Sikh and Jewish population. However, the Christian religion does not commonly require any sort of visible garment to be worn. “Observant Christians can easily hide a cross they might be wearing on a necklace; I cannot just hide my hijab under my shirt or take it off,” said Farhat, pointing out how the law disproportionately affects certain religions over others. “When it comes to Muslim’s hijab or a Jew’s kippa, you’re asked to go home, or you’re told that you will lose your job if you don’t conform.” 

“The only reason why I’m going through this is because I’m a Muslim woman. I’m a minority, I’m different. If I were white and atheist, I would never have this issue; I would never have to be concerned that a law like this will take away rights that existed since I was born.”

Photo - Nour Farhat

Blessings in Disguise 

Though the attack on her faith is aggressive and apparent, Farhat reflects on the positive that has come from this experience. 

“I’ve actually been receiving a lot of support outside of the Muslim community. I’ve received messages from the Christian Legal Fellowship, which is active in Ontario, and they’re really active on anything that has to do with freedom of religion,” said Farhat. “It’s crazy how something like a discriminatory law has strengthened interfaith relationships. It made religious people of all faiths much closer to one another.”

Nour Farhat now works at a private law firm in Montreal, practicing in the areas of Civil and Constitutional Law. “I’m one of the lawyers who are working against the Bill. It’s a privilege to be in this position, to represent my client in this case, and to be able to fight against the violation of human rights, especially as a Muslim woman,” Farhat said. “Bill 21 is a sad story, it’s a deceitful move of the government, but I’m in such a privileged position to be able to go to court and to fight the Bill using the abilities and knowledge I’ve gained to become a lawyer.”

Farhat’s trial involving the discriminatory law is expected to start at the end of October 2020. “There are four plaintiffs, my client is one of them,” she told Muslim. “There’s maybe 25 lawyers involved. It’s really amazing to be able to work in such a big constitutional law case, which would not have happened if Bill 21 didn’t pass.”

Farhat speaks of the motivation she gained after the Quebec government had betrayed her despite her work in the public service wearing a hijab. Having earned multiple law degrees, gone through the necessary legal training, learned the inner workings of the provincial government and is fluent in both French and English, she believes that she has acquired all the necessary skills to combat the oppressive law.

“You don’t want me to work with you, so I’ll work against you. It’s the best way to respond to this violation of many people’s human rights.”

A Message of Hope

Given all of her experience in dealing with the negative consequences of a law that openly attacks her way of living, Farhat has a message for those who wish to build a future within the province.

“I’ll tell you what I was thinking for myself at the time the law was created,” she said. “Never change who you are. We should never change our principles for someone else, even less the government, who shouldn’t be controlling what you believe in or how you practice it. It is not the place of the government to tell us how to live and who to be.”

“Be open about fighting violations of human rights. They took away my dream but they will not take away my faith and beliefs.”

Major Clothing Brand SHEIN Appropriates Muslim Prayer Rugs And Clothing

“It is not acceptable to cherry pick a culture or religion and rename their items to your liking.”

Major Clothing Brand SHEIN Appropriates Muslim Prayer Rugs And Clothing

“It is not acceptable to cherry pick a culture or religion and rename their items to your liking.”

By

Mareena Emran
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

If you pay close attention to big market fast fashion brands, it’s quite apparent that cultural appropriation has existed for far too long. Just this week, fashion retailer brand SHEIN was exposed on Instagram for not only mislabeling South Asian clothing as sleepwear, but also misrepresenting Islamic prayer rugs, an important item used by Muslims to worship and complete the daily five prayers.

The prayer rugs were marketed as everyday household items, calling them fringe carpets and labelling them as Greek. They even had images of the Kaaba, the holiest site for Muslims. Because of the importance of prayer rugs, it’s absolutely necessary for them to be handled with care, but SHEIN’s false advertising of the product angered Muslims all across the platform (and rightfully so).

The reviews under the prayer rugs were appalling, with many customers saying that they’ve used the “carpets” for their pets and coffee tables. 

“For a customer to unknowingly buy this, step over it, and use it for decoration is not only a form of disrespect, but it’s also a form of cultural appropriation and they basically exploited their naive customers, who aren’t informed of what an Islamic prayer mat looks like, into making a quick buck,” said 19-year-old college student Nilo Gardezy from Arizona. “It’s not a coincidence that they stole this exact design that’s on almost 90%, if not all prayer mats.”

These items off of the SHEIN website were initially found by Khadija Rizvi, a student journalist based out of the United Kingdom.

Rizvi has been keeping a close eye on the website for a while, saying that she “was baffled” when seeing that the website advertised South Asian clothing as a normal pantsuit without any explicit indication that the marketed outfits have Desi origins. She initially posted this information on her story and many took notice of the issue.

As for the prayer mats, one of Rizvi’s followers brought it to her attention, and after looking on the website once again, took the product to her Instagram to make a detailed post. 

“As a journalist, and activist, I believe that it’s my duty to use my platform to raise awareness of the corners that people sometimes overlook in society,” said Rizvi.

Rizvi’s post ultimately garnered the attention of nearly 43,000 users, with beauty influencer Nabeela Noor even taking notice. 

“I did not expect my post to blow up the way that it did, I shared my own outrage and it turned out that tens of thousands feel the same way,” said Rizvi. “This led to the items being removed, we did it together.”

SHEIN has made a comment on the situation, but has yet to make a formal apology. I mean, after religiously appropriating Muslims, AND misleading customers into buying Desi clothes as sleepwear, it’s the least they can do.

“I definitely believe that brands need to be held accountable, big or small,” said Rizvi. “It’s not acceptable to cherry pick a culture or religion and rename their items to your liking. I think SHEIN taking down the prayer mats is a step in the right direction, but nowhere near what we want to achieve.”

Rizvi, along with many of her followers feel the same way, with some even going as far as to making petitions. One petition made by 16-year-old Ummay Rabbab has already gotten around 4,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. 

“I found out about the SHEIN situation through social media, as I saw everyone posting about how it’s very disrespectful and harmful to the Muslim community,” said Rabbab. “After seeing it, I immediately started to look for ways that I could stop SHEIN from profiting off of the prayer mats. This led me to create a petition, and before I knew it, people were signing and sharing it around.”

Rabbab’s efforts have extended even further, reaching out to SHEIN via email and persistently messaging the brand over socials.

“They apologized over Twitter, but their account doesn’t even have a fraction of the amount of followers they have on Instagram,” said Rabbab. “I’m trying my best to get SHEIN to publicly apologize on Instagram, and until then, we will not stop.

READ MORE: Dear Non-Black Muslims, Your Silence Is Deadly

But even after making two, *very generic* apologies, and taking down the prayer mats from their website, the Desi clothing continues to live on their website, being purchased by hundreds of unknowing customers everyday. It doesn’t just stop at Desi clothing, but even pieces like Kaftan dresses that are traditionally from Arab origins. 

Now tell me, is a Kaftan being called a “tribal print split back draped longline dress” appropriate? If you dig even deeper, listed on the SHEIN website are outfit pieces with Islamic calligraphy written on them that are ALSO being marketed as tribal. It’s outright disrespectful and it needs to go. 

SHEIN is only one example of how large companies can exploit the clothing of certain cultures, and can even go as far to appropriate religions too. SHEIN, if you’re going to sell South Asian and Middle Eastern clothing, perhaps think about getting some South Asian or Middle Eastern models. Just a thought.

So, after all of this, my biggest takeaway is that I personally need to be more mindful of the clothing I buy. I am absolutely guilty of buying shirts that have Chinese characters on them without the full meaning, especially when I was younger. The characters on my outfit were probably appropriating the Chinese culture and I had no idea, and now that it’s happening to the clothing I personally wear, I now understand that this is a real issue. 

In the future, I absolutely want to do more research behind the companies that I purchase my clothing from, and SHEIN is a company that I believe needs to make changes to the clothing options they offer on their website. 

UPDATE: 7/5/2020

SHEIN has released a formal apology on their Instagram page following the outrage of the Muslim community on social media. 

As many continue voicing their frustration with the company, Rizvi and Noor have responded to SHEIN with messages of optimism.

“Thank you for your statement and I am sure others will be pleased to see it too,” Rizvi commented. “I hope this leads on to careful reviews of all your products and a safe open dialogue with your customers. We can all move forward together in a positive way.”

Noor commented similarly, revealing that she had spoken with the company directly in hopes to catalyze change.

“Thank you for your statement and commitment to change – and a thank you to George, Head of the Brand for having an open dialogue with me about this,” Noor commented. “I will continue the conversation and hope that this will serve as an opportunity for growth and a deeper sensitivity and appreciation for all communities.” 

SHEIN stepping up to apologize is definitely putting them in the right direction in terms of acknowledging that there are faults with the merchandise they sell on their website, but there is still so much more to be done. Here’s hoping that they keep their promise in taking further action in making SHEIN a more culturally and religiously aware company.

Fourth Of July In A Time Not Worth Celebrating

How can I take part in showcasing patriotism for a country that does not guarantee safety for my Black brothers and sisters?

Fourth Of July In A Time Not Worth Celebrating

How can I take part in showcasing patriotism for a country that does not guarantee safety for my Black brothers and sisters?

By

Amirah Ahmed
Photo - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

 

The Fourth of July is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It’s what some may call an “American tradition” to jubilantly celebrate the day with firework shows, barbecues, and red, white, and blue printed everything. But for any American that doesn’t benefit from the privilege of a typical White identity, the day leaves a bitter after taste. 

 

As a Muslim woman, the claim of “independence” is incredulous to me. Independence in my definition does not include unrightful surveillance. It does not include the invasive procedures taken every time I enter an airport to ensure that my Muslim-ness doesn’t pose a threat to travelers. Independence is never in the sense of stolen autonomy that swells every time a Muslim woman’s hijab is torn from her head. There is no independence in the shame little Muslim boys feel when slurs are hurled at them in schools that are supposed to keep them safe. There was never independence in the bound hands of a Muslim man being deported to a land he’s never stepped foot in when he has every right to this “land of the free.” Does the independence garnered from Britain over 200 years ago still hold true for Americans today? I think not.

How can I take part in showcasing patriotism for this country when it does not guarantee safety for my Black brothers and sisters just trying to go for a run, reach for a wallet, or wear a black hoodie? Is it even morally acceptable to celebrate a country in a time when its leaders are okay with denying the sanctity of childrens’ lives simply because they were not born within the same borders? I don’t think so. There was no independence in the death of another Black man denied his right to live. There will never be independence in a mother’s cries for her baby as they are pulled away from each other. If there is independence in the ear splitting shriek of schoolchildren hiding behind textbooks with the barrel of a gun staring them down, then it’s not an independence I am willing to take pride in.

I yearn for the day that I can wear this country’s colors knowing that all its citizens are safe and valued. But that day is not today, nor can I see it in the near future. I want to raise my children in a country that goes out of its way to make sure they know that they are welcome too, in all their Muslim glory. I want to live in a country that will celebrate my veteran father regardless of his olive complexion and Muslim name. I want to celebrate a country that takes accountability for its past and strives to make up for it through more than just empty apologies and false promises for a better future.  

Take a look around you.: Is this the country your ancestors were dreaming of when they decided to take a chance at a better life? Does this country fight for all of your friends and family? This 4th of July weekend, don’t mindlessly scroll past the news stories of another preventable injustice without first finding out how you can use your own privilege to help out. If you are going to celebrate your patriotism this year, make sure you’re celebrating the ongoing fight for independence for the 40% of America that doesn’t happen to be White.

READ MORE: Dear Non-Black Muslims, Your Silence Is Deadly