Muslim woman Sarah Safi fights back against religious discrimination with video that goes viral.
A Muslim woman was kicked out of a Family Dollar store in Gary, Indiana, on Monday after she refused to take off her niqab.
The woman, Sarah Safi, is a mother of four and relatively recent transplant to Hoosier state by way of Texas.
According to ABC News, Safi — who was also wearing a hijab — is “used to being stared at for wearing her religious Muslim garment.” However, prior to this trip to Family Dollar, the stares she received had never escalated to full-blown discrimination and mistreatment.
Safi walked into Family Dollar to purchase charcoal for a family barbecue. She was barely inside before the clerk, Jaime, approached her and demanded that she leave:
“I might have made it 10 steps into the store,” Safi told ABC. “And I hear the lady behind the counter say, ‘Ma’am, you need to take that off your face or you need to leave my store.'”
When Safi tried to explain the religious meaning undergirding her wardrobe, Jaime — who, by this time, had justified her actions to her bemused customer by saying she’s the manager — became dismissive:
“I understand, but you have to understand too this is a high crime area and we get robbed a lot. You need to remove that from your face or remove yourself from the store,” the store manager said.
Even Safi’s appeals to her constitutional rights as an American citizen didn’t sway Jaime:
“I told her this country is a country of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and I have a right to wear whatever I want,” protested Safi.
The store manager’s rebuttal was a threat to call the police.
Then, the store manager had the audacity to inject snark into an already humiliating situation, telling Safi, “Have a blessed day,” as she made her way out the door.
However, Safi may have gotten the last laugh. After she realized what was happening, she pulled out her cell phone and recorded the exchange.
The video went viral. (See here).
As is the case with so many other instances of racial and ethnic discrimination — particularly when it leads to police brutality — the entire encounter might’ve slipped in between the cracks of our social consciousness were it not for the power of technology to bear witness.
Safi’s concern is not unfounded. Questions about immigration reform, Muslims who immigrate to the United States and U.S.-born Muslims has played a major role in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Donald Trump has spent his entire campaign fueling anti-Muslim sentiment.
Statistics also support the fact that discrimination against, and misperceptions about, Muslims in America has been on par with racial and gender discrimination.
According to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, 76% of Americans believe that discrimination against Muslims is on the rise. This may be correlated to the conclusion that 49% of Americans believe that “some” Muslims are anti-American and to the fact that adults in America are “closely divided” on the question of whether or not Islam encourages violence.