Rose Hamid, a 56-year-old Muslim flight attendant wearing a “Salam, I come in peace” shirt was escorted out of a Donald Trump rally in South Carolina.
She was displaced by police on Friday night for no apparent reason. Trump, the Republican party’s front running candidate, whose name has become synonymous with racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, watched the proceedings from his pulpit.
After Hamid was removed and verbally assaulted by members of his audience, including several who asked her if she had a bomb, Trump said, “There is hatred against us that is unbelievable — it is their hatred, it is not ours.”
However, Hamid attended the rally simply to give people a chance to meet her.
“I figured that most Trump supporters probably never met a Muslim,” she mused, adding, “I figured I’d give them the opportunity to meet [a Muslim].”
She believed she would be safe because “people are mostly decent.” Unfortunately, her idealism was sorely tested when she stood up to silently protest Trump’s assertion that all Syrian refugees were affiliated with ISIS; despite her silence, the crowd began hurling insults at her.
“The ugliness really came out fast,” Hamid told CNN after the event, “and that’s really scary.”
While hateful and violent rhetoric is a tried and true American tradition — especially during election cycles — it can be disenchanting to note how seemingly accustomed we, as a community, can become to the relentless violence thrown our way.
A Muslim flight attendant escorted out by authorities at a Trump rally for no valid reason can easily turn into just another headline that’ll be forgotten within a matter of days, another number on a graph that charts the country’s growing climate of hate that no one will read and just another talking point that no one will contextualize within the larger conversation of the consequences of a disastrous foreign policy. This quantification of individual experiences can, among other things, take away from the individual heroism that Rosa Hamid displayed at Trump’s rally.
What Hamid did in a room full of people who support an Islamophobic candidate was brave and deserves our applause. Muslim women who wear hijab are hyper-visible; the hijab’s presence in cafe’s, on the train and in the classroom, is one that dominates each setting it occupies.
It often brings unwanted attention to the wearer, and — at times — eclipses the wearer so completely that for spectators she has no identity other than the fabric that covers her hair.
For Hamid and her turquoise hijab, to stand up silently during Trump’s speech about Syrian refugees is to own and wield that hypervisibility in a powerful and profound way; it is to engage the visibility thrust upon Muslim women and use it as a tool of brave protest.
Protests at Trump rallies are not uncommon, but the ones that have turned ugly have always involved people of color; people in positions of racial, ethnic or religious vulnerability — people whose bodies are inherently political. In using her body to silently protest injustice (and subsequently have her body physically removed from the event), Hamid acted bravely and unapologetically — and that’s the real story.
Yes, Trump and his supporters have, once again, acted hatefully; however, the real story is Rosa Hamid donning a turquoise hijab and a shirt that says “I Come in Peace,” and attending a Trump rally to use her visibility as bait to meet people, to use her visibility to give people an opportunity to meet a Muslim.
Despite the irrational and Islamophobic way Hamid was treated, she did manage to speak to some Trump supporters; some of whom, she told CNN, held her hand and said “sorry” as she was escorted out. Hamid says:
Screen grab from CNN