By Nihad Awad
A Christian professor at an Illinois college is now facing being fired by that academic institution because she sought to show solidarity with American Muslim women by wearing an Islamic headscarf, or hijab. Perhaps her greater “sin” in the eyes of college officials was the professor’s repetition of a quote by Pope Francis saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
By: Hannah Sharim, Age 17
A phobia is defined as an extreme or irrational fear of someone or something. Most people are afraid of spiders, small spaces, heights, or the dark. But phobia takes a new form when it comes to American Muslims.
It’s 6:45 AM. I wake up at the sound of my alarm, which I snoozed for the fourth time today. I brush my teeth, pin my hijab in place, and rush downstairs to go to school. Almost out the door, my parents wished me goodbye with what has become the norm: “be careful of your surroundings.” I stopped getting the “have a good day sweetie” a while ago. Now I just have to be careful, because I could be attacked. Because I could be the target of hate-speech. Because anti-Muslim bigotry is my reality.
BREAKING NEWS: Republican presidential candidate and party front-runner Donald Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown on all Muslims from entering the United States. This was the breaking point. I always felt that prejudice existed towards Muslims in America. As a young woman who wears the hijab, how could I avoid it? I feel the insolent stares I get in the streets. I feel the snarky remarks made under strangers’ breaths. I feel the isolation. But I would have never projected such intolerance to reach this extent. I never expected this feeling to overcome me. So I decided to investigate where it came from.
By Nihad Awad
President John F. Kennedy once said: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
Another president, Abraham Lincoln, wrote, "Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause."
We can best honor our nation's veterans through deeds, not mere words.
There are more than 20 million American veterans, many of whom are suffering or in need of assistance.
By Jonathan Herrera
When considering what internships to apply for as I seek a master’s degree in public policy, I focused on programs that would allow me to contribute to the protection of religious rights in America.
I am most concerned with the decline in religious tolerance toward followers of the Abrahamic faiths.
As a Christian, I see Muslims and Jews as my brothers and sisters under the same God. Seeing how the American Muslim community is struggling for equally, I felt compelled to assist in some way to ensure that the religious rights of Muslims in America are protected.
I applied for a number of internships, but only the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Government Affairs Department Fellowship Program allowed me to gain an in-depth perspective on government affairs at the nation’s capital, while simultaneously using this knowledge to achieve my goal of protecting religious rights.
Last month, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the standard used to determine the right to a religious accommodation in the workplace. In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., the Court held that an “employer may not make an applicant’s religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions.” The Court’s 8-1 decision reinforced the fundamental principles underlying Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment, by ensuring that all individuals who outwardly manifest their faith are provided an equal opportunity to participate in the job market.
Under Title VII, it is unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire an applicant because of the applicant’s religion. In addition, the law imposes an affirmative obligation on employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practice of an individual, unless the employer demonstrates that such an accommodation would cause “undue hardship” on its business. An “accommodation” is an exception to a general workplace policy or rule, which allows an employee to do something the rules ordinarily prohibit because it is part of his or her religious practice.
In 2008, clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch refused to hire Samantha Elauf, a Muslim who wears a headscarf in accordance with her religious beliefs, because her headscarf conflicted with the company’s employee “look policy.” After CAIR’s Oklahoma chapter assisted Ms. Elauf in filing an employment discrimination complaint with the EEOC, the EEOC brought suit alleging that the company’s refusal to hire Ms. Elauf constituted religious discrimination and violated the failure to accommodate provisions of Title VII.