My first introduction to American politics was a lot more exciting than I had expected.
The MG crew had just wrapped up an amazing few days at the United State of Women’s Summit. We were exhausted, inspired, and grateful to be in each others presence. It was my first time meeting the girls (although we communicate almost daily), and what a blessing it was. Never have I felt so close to a group of Muslim girls, and as our time together drew to an end, I was excited to see what changes we were going to bring to the world.
We were on our way to grab a late night coffee when we saw a group of people waving pride flags and chanting in protest. There were four of us, and in that moment we all shared the same thought; we were going to join them. And I’ve never been more thankful for a split second decision. I don’t think anyone of us knew what we were getting into that night, and we definitely did not expect the reactions that we got.
We marched all the way to the Capitol building, and I think at that point there were about 40 of us. Inside, Senator Booker and Senator Murphy were addressing Congress on proposed changes to gun law in wake of the Orlando shooting.
As soon as we arrived in the Gallery (where we watched the senators), we were met with smiles and “thank yous.” And by we, I mean the Muslim Girl crew.
People were actually thanking us for being present, out of the dozens of other people who were doing the exact same thing, and the reason made me feel incredibly guilty. They didn’t expect our support.
How terrible is that? Is it not our role as Muslims to stand for justice? If anything, we were acting on our religion by being there.
Gun law in the U.S never fails to amaze me. The fact that someone can purchase a gun online, without any sort of safety regulations is terrifying. And although I appreciated the senators who spoke about increasing legislation surrounding gun laws, so that those on the no-fly list can’t buy guns, they failed to acknowledge the rights taken away from those inaccurately placed on the no-fly list. And let’s be real, this happens all the time. The no-fly list has proven to be incredibly inaccurate…so wouldn’t it make more sense to ban gun shows and online gun orders instead?
I would love to believe that everyone on the no-fly list was a threat to national security, but we know that’s not true. We also know that white men carry out most terrorist attacks in the United States. But those are not the people that are on no fly lists.
So, the arguments that the Senators made were great…if only they were an accurate reflection of what threatens national security.
Recently, the news came that the Senate failed to pass the gun laws that Senator Booker and Senator Murphy had been pushing for the day that we watched them hold the Senate floor for the filibuster. And, in a way, I’m relieved. Keeping the world safe from violence, like we saw in Orlando, does not come from further alienating groups of people.
Although if I had it my way, no one would own any guns; you Americans are wiilllld with your gun obsession. (I’m Canadian, by the way, in case you can’t tell.) After Sandy Hook, there was a call for change. After San Bernardino, there was a call for change. After Orlando, there was a call for change.
But Congress is consistently choosing to value the right to own guns over the run to life and safety. Even more so, when Congress advocates for change, it does so by furthering marginalizing an already marginalized group of people.
Because to be frank, I’m more concerned with the likes of George Zimmerman being able to own a gun than I am with the a two year old that was mistakenly put on the no fly list.
Sitting in the Gallery and listening to Senators go back and forth on gun laws; the truth is, we all marched there wanting not just stricter gun laws, but peace. We had all hoped that by working together we would foster more change, and more progress. Nothing changed after we had walked to Congress, but at least, for us, we were walking away with a little bit more unity and a little bit more love.