In a fine display of patriotism, young Muslims participated in the anti-bigotry protest here in Aberdeen Thursday. Another patriotic Muslim American, Sioux Falls lawyer Taneeza Islam, laments the discrimination against those young people and others who share her faith:
“I consider myself a second generation Muslim American. I was born to immigrant parents, born and raised in Mid-Michigan,” Islam said.
Since then she’s made Sioux Falls her home. Yet, for Islam, and many others, practicing the Muslim faith in today’s society means being subject to the many stereotypes that come with the title.
“I’ve faced discrimination my whole life,” Islam said, “I’ve never really felt 100 percent accepted in the different environments that I’ve been in.”
This year alone, a number of Muslim communities have been targeted… with dozens of mosques vandalized across the country, some in retaliation to terrorist strikes in other parts of the world.
“It makes me really sad. I’m an American. I was born and raised here, I pledge allegiance to the flag, I sing the national anthem, I pay my taxes, I cut my lawn and make sure the city ordinances are followed. It doesn’t make sense,” Islam said [Calah Kelly, “Being a Muslim in Sioux Falls,” KELO-TV, 2016.10.21].
At a panel discussion last weekend, attorney Islam encouraged her Muslim neighbors to do something else patriotic—vote:
Everyone at the event was given the opportunity to register to vote and apply for absentee ballots.
“I think it’s important for everyone to get involved in this election,” immigration attorney Taneeza Islam said. “I think there are some really hard choices for us to make as a community and as individual” [“Sioux Falls Muslim Community Encouraged to Vote,” KSFY, 2016.10.16].
The teenagers protesting bigotry on the street in Aberdeen are mostly too young to vote. But they are doing what all Muslims, all minorities, and all South Dakotans should be doing: speaking up for liberty, justice, and opportunity for all. Muslims of voting age, bring those young people’s voice to the polls and vote for candidates who stand up for the equal rights of all Americans.