BY JENEÉ OSTERHELDT
Wearing homemade tie-dye tees and a rainbow of hijabs, the members of Girl Scout Troop 4162 decorate flower pots for Earth Day.
Zoya Hafeez, 11, paints the Pokemon logo on hers. Charizard is her fave. Ten-year-old Syeda Khadijah grabs a Girl Scout-green marker and etches out “Go Green.”
In the midst of their meeting, the sun sets. A call for prayer rings like a beautiful song on the intercom in the basement of the Islamic Center of Johnson County. The girls kick off their sneakers, covered in sparkles and pastel colors, and line up to pray for a few minutes.
As they bow and kneel, they pray for good grades and their families.
I pray for their lives.
I pray they never have to experience a hate crime or a travel ban or bullying over their hijabs or their faith.
This week, a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found that hate crimes against Muslims rose 15 percent last year.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the travel ban, widely called the “Muslim Ban,” meant to keep out immigrants, refugees and visa holders from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. Five of those seven countries are predominantly Muslim.
President Donald Trump, before ever taking office, slung around “Muslim” like a bad word, demonizing 3.45 million Americans and far more worldwide. And he keeps giving power to the Islamophobes like former Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo, the CIA director on his way to becoming the next secretary of state. John Bolton, the president’s new national security adviser, was the head of an anti-Muslim think tank.
When the government spews hate toward Muslims, it empowers everyday bigots to do the same.
A week ago, three Kansas men were found guilty of a conspiracy to bomb a Garden City apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived. Last month, a Missouri man pleaded guilty to hate crimes for threatening to behead and slaughter Muslims worshiping at a Georgia mosque. Muslims in America are under attack.
But here, at a Scout meeting in south Overland Park, the girls are flourishing in their faith and sisterhood. Together, they are strong. And it’s deeper than selling cookies.
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