New column: A Muslim Girl in O.C.

Journalist Mona Shadia, who was born in Egypt, has been assigned to write a weekly column about living as a Muslim-American in Orange County for the three Times Community News papers: the Daily and Coastline Pilots and the Huntington Beach Independent. The editor's note explains.

Staff writer Mona Shadia has gotten used to fielding questions about Islam and Middle Eastern culture in our newsroom. Whether it's fasting during Ramadan, Eid, hijabs in the workplace, the Irvine 11 or the Arab Spring, Mona has educated her co-workers (and bosses) about her faith and experiences. Those conversations led us to realize how little Americans understand about Islam and the Middle Easterners who live among us in this era of Islamophobia in America. My hope is Mona can pass along her perspective and insights to our readers. This is the first of her new weekly column, Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C.

A snippet from her first column is below.

About two weeks shy of my 15th birthday, I moved to Southern California with my mom and sister to join my grandma, three of my mom's brothers, her sister and their families.

The first thing I did was remove the hijab, but I couldn't let go of my anger toward it. Until recently.

Although there is no specific mention of a woman's hair in the Koran, there are at least two verses where God commands women to cover their heads, according to Mohammed Ibn Faqih, imam and religious director at the Anaheim-based Islamic Institute of Orange County.

These versus are also clarified through one of Prophet Muhammad's prophetic traditions.

But here's why the hijab is such a controversy.

In recent history, as with many other religious and nonreligious expressions, the hijab became politicized.

Covering became associated with oppression when, in fact, the basic purpose of the hijab was to liberate women and protect their dignity and beauty, Faqih said.



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