Islamic Student Weathers Stereotyping

Sophomore Hadeel Huwaish sits on the link stairs, surrounded by her friends during A Lunch on Jan. 5. At times, Huwaish feels like she is the “odd one out” because of her Islamic faith. Photo by Lauren Gray, photo illustration by Evan Hughes

 

By Josh Farmer

The media has recently featured numerous news stories about Syrian refugees trying to escape the violence in Syria. Other Middle Easterners, too, have fled from Jihad violence, including Baghdad Muslims fearing ISIS and Taliban attacks.

Sophomore Hadeel Huwaish lived in Jordan and Iraq until she was seven years old.  Then her father, Homamama Huwaish, a computer engineer, was offered a job in Tennessee. He was quick to take the job due to the violence in Baghdad, Iraq, where they were living at the time. A few months later, her father decided to take another position here in Superior at Enbridge.

Hadeel doesn’t remember much about living in the Middle East. America is her home. Specifically Superior, where she plays on the soccer team and manages boys’ soccer. Hadeel has said she is just like many other people attending our school, seeing herself as a committed student. Despite playing sports, studying hard and living in America as a legal citizen, she still experiences the complications and stereotypes that many Muslims face today in America.

Hadeel has experienced many cases of prejudice, such as people calling her “terrorist” or “Taliban.” She said that these insensitive comments happen daily, and to her it is “very irritating.”

“It hurts,” Hadeel said.

“I laugh at some of their jokes, but other times they can be very persistent, and that’s when I get mad,” Hadeel said.

Hadeel mentioned that her family has studied the Qur’an and are active Muslims.

Homamama has wanted her to focus on her schooling rather than her religious practices because she didn’t start learning how to speak, write or read English until she was seven years old.  She has been a little bit further behind in English than a student who grew up in America.

“It was apparent in her writing that she was quite a bit behind, but I didn’t notice it for a long time,” Jennifer Carlson, Hadeel’s English teacher, said. “It doesn’t seem to affect her.”

Carlson said she was social and kept up on her assignments, which helped.

Junior Lauren Gray has known Hadeel since 8th grade and also plays soccer with her.

“She’s a really good friend who’s going to give 100 percent to your friendship and will always be there if you need her,” Gray said.

Hadeel has hopes of attending medical school and working in the medical field to help others. While living in America, she has seen much negativity towards her native Islamic religion, but she has said she still has plans some day of picking up where she left off, studying the Qu’ran and expanding her beliefs.

 

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