Before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the word "Islamophobia"
was not part of American vocabulary. Now, more than three years later, the
fear of Muslims or their potential link to terrorism has permeated the
Austin Muslim Nahid Khataw would have described herself as shy and
introverted in the past, but now she considers herself outgoing, even an
"I feel like I'm more confident now than I was before," she said.
Khataw and her friends began spreading the word about Islam to clarify
"I've done quite a bit, and I would like to see and go to other places, and
to other churches and synagogues and teach them or just tell them about
Islam. This is my mission," Khataw said.
Khataw began her mission to teach people about Islam after her son was
harassed at school for being a Muslim. She also decided to stop wearing the
hijaab, the traditional Muslim veil, to protect herself.
"I was scared. I heard so many cases that people were being harassed
because they were wearing hijaab. Children were pulling the hijaab off and
hurting them. I thought it would be better for me and my family not to wear
it," she said.
The word hijaab literally means screen or partition. Muslim women wear the
veil to prevent the mingling of opposite sexes, which could lead to
pre-marital sex, a sin according to the Quran.
But many modern Muslim women believe the hijaab is too restrictive. They
say after Sept. 11, 2001, wearing the veil is like stamping the scarlet
letter on your chest…