More on Ummid: International l National Regional l Politics Sports Religion l History l Culture l Education

 

 

Kasimji case: SHRC directs State Govt to reply for CBI probe

Sundered Hindu-Muslim, Indo-Pak-Kashmiri Family....

Brand classes for new IITs on block

Kapil Sibal salvo on faculty quota

France considers imposing ban on wearing burqas

Muslim docs rushed to Sena chief's rescue

Raghuvanshi as ATS Chief NO, screams Muslim Leaders

Gen Assembly Pres receives World March Coordinator

Daccani- A Common Foundation of Urdu and Hindi

 

Violence, Islam and the Islamic Movement: What is the role of violence in human life? Under what conditions does Islam permit violence? What rules and conditions has Islam laid down for the conduct of armed conflict?...Read Full

Fatimah bint Mohammad: Fatimah was the fifth child of Muhammad and Khadijah. She was born at a time when her noble father had begun to spend long... Read Full

Aisha bint Abi Bakr

   

Ten year plan for Education of the Muslim Youth

 

 

'India Unity', a play performed by little kids

Kavi Sammlen on Communal Harmony in Malegaon

Violent

Reaction has

no place in Islam

   

Rahman conferred honorary doctorate by AMU: Oscar-winning music maestro A.R. Rahman was Sunday conferred an honorary doctorate by the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) at its 59th convocation. The composer, who said he was....Read Full

Overwhelming response to Career Fest Vision 2015

   

 

'I see my role as offering the voices of the silenced majority of Muslims in America and around the world', says Obama's Muslim advisor: Dalia Mogahed, a hijab-clad American Muslim, has made history.... Read Full

Zafar Shaikh-Making Possible The Impossible: While working with Zafar Shaikh at Star Bottling Company in Jalgaon nineteen years ago, the fellow co-workers had never imagined that he would one day become the sole... Read Full

The Men Inspired by Debacles: If one intends to learn “how to invite a trouble and come out of it triumphant”, then one must meet Ashwin Shah aka Lalit Shah of an empire popularly known as Oasis.....Read Full

A Trip to Globe on Handcart: There are few in this world who are recognized by the good deeds. Bhavarlalji Jain, of course,  is one among the coveted few....Read Full

Skilled Hands converting couplets into portraits: The powerloom factories might have been the only available option for the Malegaonians, the deprived people of the Muslim dominated textile town in North Maharashtra....Read Full

A Living Unani Legend

Patriarch of the Deprived Lot

Time to Dream Big

   

 

‘National history has been fragmented too callously’: The sad thing is that the standard structure, particularly in history, has declined considerably. This is partly because of the poor quality of....Read Full

Fascism and Terrorism: Two Sides of the same coin: “It seems that the fascist forces with a clear anti-Muslim agenda have infiltrated the security forces. Since the Indian constitution is .... Read Full

Check the Foreign Investments: Foreign Fund has always lured the third world countries. However with the beginning of the 21st century the lust in India reached such a level that to attract the....Read Full

Terrorist vs Terrorism

Victims of Terror

   

 

The storm sweeping south Asia: “Afghanistan has been known over the years as the graveyard of empires” stated  General  David H. Patraeus, head of the US Central Command, in an attempt to.....Read Full

Stable India and Shaky South Asia: Stable India in Shaky South Asia a relief for US. This is one of the headlines finding prominent space in a section of the media. There is no doubt that the result.....Read Full

All Hardship for

A Durable Peace: Nothing is more important today than a better coordination among the South Asian countries and a durable peace....Read Full

Taliban’s Jizya is Extortion, Nothing to Do with Islam: Indian Muslim religious leaders have unanimously condemned in strongest terms the Pakistani Taliban’s kidnapping, extortion of huge amounts....Read Full

Muslim Intellectuals reject

Taliban Ban on Female Education-Against Islamic principles is their act, not the female education, they assert: Taking strong exceptions of the reports that are appearing in the....Read Full

 
   

 

Salman Khursheed starts on a wrong note: Even if we give Congress under Manmohan Singh's second term as PM, the benefit of doubt over its willingness....Read Full

'Give the Indian Muslims ten years of peace': True, the Government initiatives, schemes and policies take time and if they are related to Muslims...Read Full

Sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan was a man of great humility: Legendary sarod exponent Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, one of the greatest Indian classical musicians of modern times, was in personal life a man of great.....Read Full

 
   

 

Saudi King calls for Interfaith Dialogue: The Saudi king has made an impassioned plea for dialogue among Muslims, Christians and Jews — the first such proposal from a nation with no diplomatic ties to Israel and a ban on non-Muslim religious services and...Read Full

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) Who devised a Secure World

France's Encounter with Pharaoh Ramesses

Introducing Islam

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 

Crossing to Atlantic with a Quran in hand

October 18, 2006, 10:30:25 AM Katrin Bennhold, International Herald Tribune

 

My Hijab Made Me Happy: When I reverted to Islam, the religion of inborn nature, a fierce debate raged about girls observing the Hijab at schools in France. It still does. The majority, it seemed...Read Full

French Anti-Hijab Law: Four Years On

France considers imposing ban on wearing burqa

Half Americans Don't Know Islam: Poll

Sikhs challenge US army's ban on turbans, beard

Paris: When I walked into Washington's Dulles International Airport with two suitcases and a ticket to Paris, I was satisfied that I looked like a Muslim woman. A Hijab left only the oval of my face exposed - my blond hair was covered, pulled back in a tight bun - and I was wearing an ankle-length skirt. For good measure, a copy of the Koran stuck out of my handbag.

 

The idea to slip into the skin of a Muslim on a trans-Atlantic flight had come to me after interviewing dozens of young Muslims in Chicago about their post-9/11 experiences. One had given me a Koran. Returning to Washington from Chicago, when I flipped open my suitcase at check-in to find my passport, the Koran came into view. The United Airlines agent became visibly uncomfortable. I was searched, and on arrival in Washington, my checked bag had a security notice inside informing me that it, too, had been checked.

 

Many of the people I interviewed in Chicago had spoken of airports.

"Muslims on planes are like black people driving late at night," one young man said. "They are guilty until proven innocent." After several Islamic scholars assured me that it would not be offensive for me, a non-Muslim, to dress as one, I decided to wear the Hijab back to Europe.

 

I arrived at Dulles last Saturday covered in black, not knowing what to expect. But nobody turned to stare as I made my way through the departure hall to the Air France check-in desk for flight AF039. People just went about their business.

 

The young man examining passports at the check-in line looked Middle Eastern. "Passport and ticket please," he said. I pulled out my passport and explained that I had an e-ticket. "Don't you have a print-out?" he asked. I shook my head. He looked at my handbag. "Can you swear on the Koran that you're getting on the 5 p.m. flight?" he quipped. I assured him that was the right flight, and he waved me through with a broad smile. "This is not so bad," I thought to myself.

 

Minutes later I changed my mind. When a friend who accompanied me to the airport pulled out a camera to take my picture, the middle-aged man behind me turned to his wife and said, in German, "Now she is taking her martyr photos."

 

"Shhh," his wife replied and giggled.

 

They didn't know I was German. When I turned to look at them and then asked my friend a question in German, their embarrassment was plain. The remark had been a joke. But it spoke loudly about how Islam and terrorism have become intertwined in the collective subconscious.

 

Check-in went smoothly, but I was feeling self-conscious. Waiting in the security line, I tried to read people's thoughts: some antipathy, it seemed, mainly from older people, and a lot of curiosity, especially from young women. At one point I met the eyes of an Indian-looking woman with a headscarf. She nodded and smiled. "We're in the same boat," her look seemed to say.

 

A woman security guard walked along the snaking line asking people to discard their drinks. When she came to me she said: "I take it you have no drinks - it's Ramadan, isn't it? Any other liquids?" I shook my head, impressed by her knowledge of the Muslim fast.

 

One man in the line struck up a conversation. "Are you Turkish?" he asked, pointing at my German passport. "No, German," I answered. "Half-Turkish?" "No, just German," I smiled. He clearly had trouble categorizing me. The vast majority of Muslims in Germany are descendants of Turkish "guest workers" who came in the 1960s and 1970s.

 

As the line edged forward, I started chatting with a black man near me. He said that he was not Muslim but that two of his African-American friends were. "But people don't think of Muslims when they see black people," he said.

 

"It's kind of funny," he mused, shaking his head after I told him about the German incident at check-in. "People are happy now when a black man sits down next to them on the plane. Why? Because he is not an Arab."

 

At the X-ray machine I placed my handbag, shoes and jacket on the conveyer belt and walked through the metal detector. I half expected to be pulled aside for a search, but nothing happened. I put my shoes and jacket back on. Then just as I walked away, I heard a polite but determined voice: "Ma'am. Please step this way, you have been selected for a search."

 

"Why me?" I asked. "It's random, Ma'am," he answered, indicating half a dozen others who were being searched then: old, young, white, black, Latino. I was the only "Muslim."

 

Random. As they searched my bag, the word transported me back to a recent conversation with an imam in Bridgeview, a Chicago suburb with a large Palestinian community.

 

"When you have been searched 10 times in a row, it does not feel so random anymore," he said.

 

Many of the young Muslims I met said they dressed in Western styles when they traveled to avoid being picked out for screening. Amjad Quadri, a 31-year-old computer scientist who recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, said he had worn baggy jeans, sneakers and a T-shirt, hoping to look like an American tourist. "I even wore a baseball cap," he said, instead of his usual kufi, a traditional Muslim hat.

 

On my way to gate B-41, I caught my reflection in the window and saw what other people see. I was no longer just a woman, no longer a German, a journalist, or a person of a particular color or shape. I was a Muslim. The hijab defined me.

 

On boarding, fellow passengers went out of their way to be helpful, offering to lift my bag into the overhead compartment and making room when I passed. I finally sank into my seat, the Koran on my knees. A young British woman on my right, reading a gossip magazine with close-ups of celebrities in bikinis, avoided eye contact. The Brazilian man on my left apologized every time his arm or knee brushed against mine.

 

Thankfully we were flying east, so shortly after takeoff the sun was gone and I was able to eat and drink without blowing my cover. I remembered not to order any pork and to forego my habitual glass of red wine.

 

Halfway over the Atlantic I got up for a stretch and a glass of water, taking my notebook with me. A Frenchwoman nodded at the pad and asked: "Are you a student?" I told her I was a journalist; she looked surprised. "Ah. And who do you work for?" Al Jazeera? Some Muslim newsletter? her eyes seemed to ask. "The International Herald Tribune," I replied. More surprise. "Ah. And what do you cover?" Religion? "French politics."

 

Maybe she was not actually thinking those things. I noticed during the trip that I was constantly reading between the lines. "As a Muslim you feel you can never have a bad day," Asma Akhras, a Syrian-American math teacher, had told me. "When you get cranky in traffic or in the shop you feel you can't show it because you fear that people won't just think 'cranky woman,' they'll think 'cranky Muslim.' It's tiring."

 

We landed on time at Charles de Gaulle International in Paris. It was 6:30 a.m. and a cluster of tired travelers flocked to passport control. One line stopped moving when an Arab-looking man presented his passport; it took nearly 10 minutes for him to be waved through.

When a new window was opened, my line forked and a woman behind me nudged her husband: "Come, it will be quicker here." As it happened, the officer barely glanced at me, waving me through in less than a minute.

 

I picked up my suitcases from the baggage claim and took a taxi home. At Dulles, most of the drivers had seemed to be Pakistani and Indian Muslims. Here, my driver was a Frenchman of Algerian descent. "One day none of us will make a difference between Muslims and Christians and Jews anymore," he said.

 

"Inshallah."

 

 

 

  Bookmark and Share

Home | Top of the Page

  Comment on this article

Name:
E-mail Address:
Write here...
     
     
 
 
 

 
 
 

Ummid.com: Home | Contact Us | Disclaimer | Terms of Use | About Us | Feedback

Ummid Business: Advertise with us | Careers | Link Exchange

Ummid.com is part of Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and condition mentioned.