Muslim women bear burden of stereotyping
Shehnaz Khan wants to know why she’s called a terrorist.
Lately, snide comments about her Muslim faith have escalated, she said. Khan’s used to sneering looks, but not overhearing that all Muslims should be killed.
“I feel scared,” she told Metro. “Before, I didn’t feel like anything was going to happen to me physically.”
Khan, a student who works with Queens Muslim women’s group Turning Point for Women and Families, is part of “ARISE NY,” a teen-targeted campaign that is part of Turning Point’s regular youth group for young Muslim women.
In the wake of an imam attacked on the subway last week — and continuing furor surrounding the proposed community center and mosque near Ground Zero — Khan said, “This was something we felt we had to do.”
Thursday, the group is participating in a Jackson Heights open-mic night, a chance for teens to share racist encounters.
Since September, the group has met with 13- to 17-year-olds. When they describe hate crimes, she said, “Everyone immediately starts rehashing their own stories.”
Girls as young as 15 tell of people sneering “suicide bomber” and “terrorist.” Strangers yank off their head scarves. One girl, while riding the bus, was asked when “the next bomb was going to drop.”
“Women are obviously very identifiable,” said Lynne Jackson, president of Project SALAM, a group helping persecuted Muslims. Their hijabs, or head scarves, mark them as Muslims.
» Khan has a slew of incidents to pick from, but one’s chilling — a man on the subway, smirking at Khan while telling his young daughter Muslims were “cold-blooded killers.” It shook her, she said: “I literally just saw hatred being passed down.”
» A 16-year-old Queens high school student, who asked that her name not be used, opened her personal website one day to find someone had spewed racist things about her “head turban” and said all you “dumb terrorist b—es are going to either blow up our country or have so many children you’ll turn this country into the f—ing Middle East.”