SPRING HILL – “Hey lady, go back to your country!”

The angry words caught Ghada Eldin off guard. It was weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, and Ghada was pushing her shopping cart through the aisles of a Publix grocery story.

She was dressed modestly, covered from neck to wrists and down to her ankles. Her hair was carefully wrapped in a hijab, or headscarf, in keeping with the guidelines of Islam.

Ghada ignored the comment, in hopes she wouldn’t provoke the man who spat the words in her direction. A store manager came over and told the man he shouldn’t speak to a lady that way.

But people didn’t have to speak. Ghada could read it on their faces.

“You could tell from the people’s eyes that something was not right,” she said.

When the Twin Towers crumbled in New York City, Hernando County became a different place for Ghada, her husband, Adel, and their three young daughters.

It became a different place for all Muslims in the county.


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