A public defender shares her story as a Muslim American

A friend of Dua Abudiab stopped wearing the hijab after a man accosted her and called her several names while she was riding a bus in downtown Seattle. It was a sobering moment for Dua, a public defender at DPD’s TDA Division who wears the hijab every day.


Dua Abudiab is a public defender for DPD’s TDA Division.

Dua is also active in the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Around the same time that Dua’s friend was accosted, the director of CAIR reached out to her and asked her if she would write about what it means to be a Muslim American woman. Such a piece, he told her, would help to affirm other women who show their faith by wearing the hijab.

Dua doesn’t like attention. But her friend’s experience, other recent incidents that have garnered press attention and the encouragement of the CAIR director convinced her that she should speak out. And so she did.

On August 8, a commentary she penned ran in The Seattle Times. The response has been overwhelming, she said. “I told folks it’s not about me. It’s about the adults and kids out there who are being harassed, and to let them know they are not alone.”

The commentary from the Seattle Times is reprinted here in its entirety.

Stop hate speech; reaffirm hope for American Muslims

Recent attacks by a presidential candidate targeted a grieving American Muslim Gold Star mother, Ghazala Khan, who is still trying to overcome the loss of her son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan — a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient. Those attacks are also affecting American Muslim children.

Whenever candidates or commentators talk about Islam or Muslims, they should think about the effects of their words on the lives of American Muslim children across our nation. Anti-Muslim hate speech is dangerous because of the hate crimes it can incite and its harmful message, especially to American Muslim girls. It can shatter their hopes for a better future, of a life fulfilled and of the American dream.

To the millions of American Muslim girls growing up across our country, I say as a strong, independent, hijab-wearing and law-school-educated American Muslim woman attorney: You have the right to grow up with the same hopes and dreams as any young person. You can be an American and a practicing Muslim.

I am a proud American and a proud practicing Muslim. I am a U.S. citizen and a registered voter. I was born in Lawrence, Kan., and grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas. My parents encouraged me to be an ambassador of my faith. They taught me to be humble and grateful for God’s blessings, no matter the hardships in life.

American Muslims share our country’s strong family values and are dedicated to raising and educating their children.

I love my family. My parents worked hard to provide for my sister, brother and me. They taught us to be productive citizens and proud Americans. I work hard to make my parents proud.

My parents taught me Prophet Muhammad’s teaching that Muslims, both women and men, should pursue higher education. Inspired by this Islamic teaching, my mother holds three master’s degrees — mathematics, education and counseling — and I worked hard to get into the South Texas College of Law and now work as an attorney. I volunteer at Seattle Children’s Hospital and serve on the board of Lawyers Helping Hungry Children. My sister is a medical student and graduated as valedictorian of her high-school class.

A Gallup Poll found that American Muslim women are the second most highly educated religious group of women in the U.S. and are just as likely as American Muslim men to have a college degree or pursue higher education.

American Muslims believe in the freedom of all U.S. citizens to live and worship in their own way. American Muslims uphold the Constitution and U.S. laws and share the same American values and freedoms that we all cherish, knowing that we are all in this together. Thousands of American Muslims serve in our nation’s military, and several have made the ultimate sacrifice. Hundreds of thousands of American Muslims are volunteers, law-enforcement officials, public-school teachers, firefighters, nurses and business owners building our economy. There are about 50,000 American Muslim doctors saving lives every day.

Never before in our nation’s history have reported anti-Muslim hate crimes been as high as in 2015. Throughout 2015, the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) offices nationwide received, on average, at least one to two daily reports of anti-Muslim hate attacks. While no federal agency collects data on discrimination targeting children based on religion, about 80 percent of American Muslim youths, according to surveys, have been targets, often in front of school administrators.

Hate speech leads to hate crimes. When hate speech and conspiracy theories against a minority are constantly spread publicly and go unchallenged, they foster an atmosphere that leads to hate crimes.

In times like now, everyday Americans and fair-minded leaders have a duty to affirm the American value of religious freedom and to publicly tell stories of the lives and contributions of American Muslims. It will remind millions of American Muslim children that they have the right to grow up with the same hopes and dreams as any young American.

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