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Mona Jawad (a pseudonym) was doing her masters degree in Boston when 9/11 happened. 

“The students all looked at me as if I was guilty. They projected all the responsibility onto me. I felt so different and isolated.”

She says she has been questioned so often by others that she feels she is being investigated. Where are you from? Why does your religion teach you to hate non-Muslims? “Often I avoid telling other people that I am an Arab.”

One time she put a bag down on the floor next to her desk while she went to talk to the professor. A fellow student asked if there was a bomb inside. “I told the woman to open it and check. She did not look like she was joking and she never apologized. If very educated people are doing this, what can I expect from the rest?”

“One day there was a student giving a presentation in class who stated that all Muslim women have undergone female circumcision. When I told her this was not the case she started arguing with me and said she had done her research and all Muslim women have to get it done. I told her that I am Muslim and had nothing done – did she want to come to the washroom with me to check? In the same presentation, the professor said that it is true that all Muslim men hit women. This is at a very well-known university!”

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.