Dear Mr. President,
As-Salaam-Alaikum. My name is Aleena K., and I currently go to Northwest High School in Germantown, Maryland. Per the requirements of an honors research program I participate in, I completed a senior research project on a topic of my choosing. I wanted to make my project something that I could use as a learning experience, something that would correctly embody the passion I have for helping people. That was when I settled on my topic: Muslim-Americans. As a practicing Muslim-American, I am all too familiar with the difficulties of being a Muslim in a non-Muslim majority country. Thus, my project, titled Split in the Middle: Why Muslim-American Teenage Girls Struggle with their Identity, was born.
Completing this project was difficult. I had to face not only my insecurities, but the harsh rhetoric of other Americans. Because one of the potential causes of an identity crisis is the media, I had to browse through the comments section of various articles that pertained to Muslim-Americans. I spent a couple of hours, sitting on the floor of my bedroom, reading thousands of comments from other people throughout America. The multitude of people who expressed their desire for deporting Muslims shocked me the most. I am an American, I grew up here. I say the Pledge of Allegiance every day. And yet, I am a Muslim. I fast during the month of Ramadan and celebrate Eid. I read the Quran, go to religion class, and pray. Which one was I allowed to be? It is a question that plagues me to this day.
Today, I watched you give a speech at a mosque in Baltimore. You talked about how society needs to stop its rhetoric, because it is not fair to profile a group of people as a result of the actions of one person. You mentioned how we are not just Muslims, or just Americans, but we are both. We are Muslim-Americans. Amongst the negative comments and the rising hatred of Muslims in this country, your speech was like an oxygen tank.
It allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief and give me hope that maybe, just maybe, there was an influential figure who believed in us.
As I am writing this letter, I am listening to Adele’s song “All I Ask” on her new album. And all I ask is for acceptance and tolerance from others. I know that this can eventually be achieved, not from the work of just one individual, but from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your faith in us.