This brave teenager is using the attention to clear up harmful stereotypes about Islam, Muslim women, and the hijab.
17-year-old Lamyaa from Pennsylvania is no stranger to online harassment. On April 14, 2017, however, a stranger in a group chat went too far when they wrote, “Stop defending Islam Bitch shut up you couldn’t take that scarf off or your dad would beat your ass.”
To prove the individual wrong without succumbing to insult trading, Lamyaa instead contacted her dad who lives in Saudi Arabia. She asked him if it would be okay for her to remove her hijab. His response? Well, that’s the part that has completely won over the internet.
Lamyaa shared his response on Twitter, and it has since gone viral with over 320k likes and 147k shares.
She posted their conversation:
Lamyaa: Baba, I want to tell you something.
Lamyaa’s father: Talk to me [asks her if she’s OK in Arabic]
Lamyaa: Yeah I’m okay. I was thinking. I want to take my hijab off.
Lamyaa’s father: Sweetheart that’s not my decision to make. That’s no man’s decision to make. If it’s what you feel like you want to do, go ahead. I’ll support you no matter what. Is everything okay? Did something happen?
After the Tweet went viral, Lamyaa opened up to Upworthy about the reason she shared the conversation in the first place. First, she relayed that it’s not easy being a Muslim woman in America.
“Personally, being an Arab Muslim woman in America, these sort of hateful messages aren’t uncommon.”
She then explained:
“People believe that Islam is misogynistic, hateful, or violent, and I think that stems from their inability to differentiate culture and religion. Islam is a religion and, like all religions, it is what you bring to it.”
Whereas some women are forced to wear a hijab (which she thinks is “horrible”), she wears the hijab “because it is sacred to me.”
“It displays my connection to my faith and God. When I have the hijab on, I act kinder and I am more aware of what I say and do. This is because not only am I representing myself, but I am representing a faith much bigger than me.”
“If I had one thing to say to people who have misconceptions about Islam, it would be: Speak to a Muslim,” Lamyaa says. “Have a conversation with a Muslim. Many of us are willing to answer any questions and clear up any misconceptions. Muslims are not some separate group. We are a part of America. We are people.”
Hopefully, this occurrence will prevent others from spouting harmful statements – especially in online chats where anonymity gives cowards false bravado. Truly, there is more that unites people than divides them. When the world recognizes this truth, many issues will cease to be. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!