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I grew up in Kuwait where I lived with my parents, siblings, and father’s side of the family. We’d visit my mother’s relatives every other summer or winter break in America and it was no exception in December 2001. I was too young to realize why my father didn’t spend the first day of our vacation with us on the beach in Clearwater, Florida. You see, he was held for several hours at the airport and interrogated because airport security thought he might be evil. You hear it on the TV all the time, the term “Islamic terrorism.” I get those looks when someone reads my Arabic name on my ID. Immigration officials at the airport might be all friendly with me one moment – even commenting positively on my tattoos. Then they read my passport, get all silent, and start eyeing me up one side and down the other. People assume I am Muslim, and they think Islam is evil, so they think I am evil. But is Islam really evil?
After being in America for four years, I’ve started to question whether Islam truly is evil as I had my own doubts after struggling to make sense of the sensationalized news broadcasts of the Bad Apples of Islam. I even took off my hijab after wearing it for eight years because I didn’t want to be associated with a religion that was deemed evil. As a Kuwaiti-American Muslim, there was always an unspoken pressure to explain “my people,” so naturally I’d liven it up with a few jokes about suicide bombers and arranged marriage.

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