My experience with Islam By Sarah-Beth kerkache

In June of 2014, the life I lived was quite exciting. I knew there was going to be a great 3 months ahead of me. We started off summer with a trip to Algeria to visit my dad's part of the family. Zayd and I were so excited to go and we could not wait to see our family. Growing up with a Muslim father and a Catholic mother was a whole different feeling. Growing up, my mom and dad shielded us from the many crisis, and they did their very best.

One of the prettiest sights on the Lagerian-Morraccan border

Not yet in my life did I start to have any conflicts, but Zayd had a few. One of his teachers made a comment on a Mosque and how it should be burned down. I did not understand how that was acceptable to say as a teacher. That was what I was shielded from. We went to Algeria for 3 weeks, and I enjoyed it very much. Every year we went we were able to learn and see something new. In this case, what I learned and saw was a scar that remains in my heart. I watched on the news as a large population of people expressed their feelings about Muslims. These people said we are sick, radical, unfaithful, etc. It was all a shock to me, and my parents began to realize I would eventually understand what was going on. Once I got back from my trip, they explained to me what was happening in current time. They told me about the rising hatred of Muslims and Immigrants from the Middle East. I had anxiety from that day on, always thinking something could happen to my father. After that, my summer continued, and we did not talk about that issue again.

I wrote a peace paragraph in Arabic and left it so people could understand the real meaning of Islam

6th grade began, and I was so excited to be in middle school. It was a sense of feeling “older” that changed my perspective. It was the first time in 3 years that Zayd and I had been in the same school. I had an overall great time, but I had my first encounter with insults. In my health class, the large group of boys came to me and asked if my father was a suicide bomber. This was one of the most atrocious moments of my life. Being the young kid I was, I bursted into tears. I told my teacher right away, but she actually did not do anything to help the situation. This showed me how the religion of Islam was not cared about, like it was not even there. I was in so much shock, I went home and I was too scared to mention this to my parents.

My cousin Sameh and I right before I flew back home to start 6th grade.

Not until the week after I finally was confident enough to tell them. I remember my dad had the most shocked and upset reaction. I could see it in his eyes. My dad is not the type who gets upset, and if he does, he never shows it. I knew something was about to happen. I was called to the office were the whole situation was dealt with. I thought something like this would never happen again. By the time I entered 7th grade, I felt a lot more confident, and I had a voice. I said to myself I wouldn't let that happen again. We had many debates in social studies, but when we debated on ISIS or on the topic of Radical Islam, I prepared myself. I was by far the most educated student on the subject. The words and phrases that people used were far beyond inappropriate. One student even had the nerve to go as far as saying “not all terrorists are Muslim, but all Muslims are terrorists.” This got me to my boiling point, and I had nothing better to do then lash out and reveal what the truth was. The truth was, Islam was nothing but a peaceful religion that teaches you the values of life. It later got to the point where I was used to people saying stupid things to me, and I knew I was stronger than them, so I told myself to "shake it off'. I found myself very happy because I was finally able to express myself. I could tell people my story and my views without being embarrassed or hurt, for the most part. The conflict of hatred at this time was still going on, but that gave me a reason to let out my feelings. It motivated me to tell people what a true Muslim really was, and how it was possible for everyone to come together and fix the crisis. The year came to an end, and I felt as if my job was done. People no longer made me uncomfortable and upset, but they had a new found interest and view on Muslims and immigrants.

My cousin Khadidja and I at her University

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