Welcome to ”The Story We Share,” a series of Q&As that profile two people with similar identities ― but who live in very different places. As part of HuffPost’s Listen To Americatour, we’re exploring how people’s lived experiences overlap and diverge depending on their zip codes. What is the “American Experience?” It depends where you look.
Along with the growing pains that typically mark the transition from girlhood to adulthood, American Muslim teen girls also face the challenge of dealing with discrimination because of their religion.
This added layer of vulnerability became apparent during Ramadan this June, when a 17-year-old teen girl named Nabra Hassanen was abducted and killed while walking near her Virginia mosque. The tragedy hit close to home for many young Muslim girls. Like their peers around the country, Hassanen and her friends had left their mosque to eat suhoor, a pre-dawn Ramadan meal, at a fast food restaurant. The joyful nature of that treasured Ramadan ritual was shattered that Sunday morning in Virginia ― and the effects were felt across the country.
Hundreds of miles away, in Florissant, Missouri, 17-year-old Salsabel Fares learned about Hassanen’s death through her friends and from her parents ― and not through social media, where she typically gets her news.
The murder stunned her. She told HuffPost she nearly broke out in tears when she heard about it.
“I was so incredibly upset,” she said. “It just scared me reading it. Because of my religion, I fear for my safety and I fear for my life.”
In Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, Arshia Hussain, another 17-year-old Muslim girl, echoed Fares’ words.
“That could have happened to any of us, to any Muslim girl,” Arshia told HuffPost. “There are so many Muslim girls thinking that it could have happened to them.”