The words of Muna A Aden:
I am a disappointed Kenyan today. I am a livid Muslim lady Today. And I shall tell you Why.
I walked into the dark blue windowed Diamond mall on Tom Mboya Street at half past noon today, upon which I was immediately accosted by a security guard who opened and searched my handbag thoroughly. At that point, It did not elude me that the 2 ladies behind me just walked past the guard to climb the stairs to the stalls on first floor. They both carried bags the same size as mine. It was also not lost on me that throughout the ten minutes that I later stood in front of a particular shop the guard did not go through any other ladies bags. I lie not.
I’m used to this. It is normal in Kenya today for a Muslim woman in full Hijab to be singled out like this and so I let it pass. I called the owner of the shop. She is one of the new generation business ladies with a popular Facebook page advertising maxi skirts .My favourite .She was running late and requested me to wait outside her shop which was directly below the stairs for a few minutes. And thus I stood in front of her shop, less than 50 cm from the guard who had just gone through my bag.
And that’s when She came , “Madam , why are you standing here? “ Turning to the guard “Why are you allowing her to stand here? Mbona unacompromise security yetu? Have you searched her? I was taken aback at how blunt she was. No sugar coating , nothing. I mean she could have spoken in her mother tongue to him ,which I now know he understood. She was an elderly woman , and so I chose to indulge her . “”Ma’am, why me of all this people waiting around?, I am waiting for someone just like them ,What’s special about me?” .Her Reply, I still wonder why it surprised me. “Because of your clothes! We can never be sure with people like you and we have a right to question you!“. I was getting angry. “And I have a right not to reply “. “No you don’t!, you must answer when we ask you “.The guard was meanwhile trying to explain that I was clear and waiting for someone ,upon which she walked away ,but not before several other ladies appeared from the stalls near the entrance . They Surrounded me, shouting. The guard stepped infront of me. One in Particular, who had emerged from the stall to the right hand side of the stairs , clad in a spaghetti top and a mini skirt was the loudest . “We shall ask you and you shall answer humbly, how do we know you are not carrying grenades in that bag? and we shall leave you alone only when you start dressing like a person “. “ My throat stung tasting the stupidity in her words . ”I agree, you are definitely more of a person in your mini. Please go back to your stall.” “Look at this al-Shabab , I swear if it was not for the soldier standing in front of you ,tungekustrip hiyo hijab ,tukutoe nje .” I don’t know how it happened but I found myself in front of her ,the guard now behind me ,daring her to touch any part of my attire. The nerve of the woman! She actually moved towards me but stopped just before the guard came in between us again. She had perhaps expected me to step back which I didn’t or expected the rest to join her, which they didn’t. She stepped back.
Just then the owner of the shop arrived and she was ever apologetic .”Dont mind them, they will not harm you ,It is because of your clothing that they are behaving like this “.I gave up. Sometimes, even I fail at replies .We were now inside her shop ,with the other ladies still yelling that she should not protect me just because I was her customer. We closed the door. I walked out a few minutes later and they escorted me with expletives.
Where do I even start? I could go on about the cliché that not all Muslims are terrorists ,that every person has their dress of choice ,(never mind the deliberate indecendency of some, it is all good as long as it is in the name of freedom),that terrorists are just deranged psychos who kill in the name of whatever religion and so on and so forth, but I shall not. If you do not know all this by now ,It is your affair ,Go educate yourself. Aaaah, the hypocrisy of it all! So it is ok for you to wear a miniskirt, run in the streets shouting my dress my choice, to turn around weeks later and shout at a Hijab wearer to dress like a person next time she enters a mall if she does not wish to have her Hijab stripped?
Mine is just to state, that for any individual who thinks it is Ok to harass me because of my dress ,they had best believe It is on. It is on until we get to the police station,and at the Station it will still be on and even after we leave the station ,it might still be on. I will not be boxed into the current guilt box all Muslims are expected to fit in when it comes to terrorism. I will not apologise for terrorists and I will not publicly condemn them any more than the average Kenyan because i am not one of them .Period. Therefore next time someone asks me why I am sitted or standing somewhere , they had better inquire with those doing the same next to me before they expect a sensible answer .Before any guard demands to go through my belongings ,he had better have gone through the belongings of the person before me. Why? Because I am not a second class citizen. Simple.
Silence on this and other such incidents would mean accepting and propagating baseless acts of discrimination and Islamophobia .I Refuse to do that .So for anyone who thinks the above should not have happened ,share this and let it be known that malls such as Diamond Mall and the like who disrespect and humiliate customers on the basis of their choice of dress shall be boycotted and entirely avoided.
The words of Muna A Aden:
we wont allow democracy to breed terrorism