Yasmine 2014

A couple of months ago, I was crossing a parking lot from the store to my car and a driver coming my way decided not to stop. Luckily I jumped out of his way before he could hit me, but I was still stunned and scared.

I continued walking to my car but the driver decided to get out of his car and start yelling at me in front of everyone. He screamed at me for wearing the hijab and told me to leave this country because "Muslims don't belong here." Full of shock and anger, I took out my phone and yelled back at him, I am recording you now and I will put it up online. Once he realized that I was recording, he cut himself off mid-sentence, got in his car and drove away.

Advertisement

It turns out I wasn't the only Muslim woman who had the instinct to document the abuse I was receiving in this way. Many other women are using social media tools like Facebook Live, Snapchat and Twitter to capture the harassment they and their families are facing daily on the streets.

"Technology is being used to help Muslim women protect themselves,"  Maha Elkolalli, a Muslim American attorney and mother of five children—three of whom wear the hijab—told me in an interview. "I always yell at my kids if they leave the house with their phones not charged. I tell my kids, when crossing the street you always have to look and assess because you don’t know if that person behind the wheel is malicious and would run you over because they don't like who you are."

Maha Elkolalli

Technology has allowed more people than ever to witness what is being done to some Muslims in America.

Advertisement

Nura Takkish and her friend, for instance, were eating ice cream when a Trump supporter walked into the shop and began hassling them. Takkish's friend took her phone out and captured the entire incident on the phone. Later she tweeted it and it went viral.

There were also the disturbing images that Farad Afshar, a college student in California, posted of his mother after she had raw eggs thrown at for wearing the hijab outside a Walmart. The photos spread everywhere, fueling a renewed dialogue about Islamophobia.

Then, there is Yasmine's story.

Seven years ago, Yasmine, a Muslim U.S. Army soldier, was getting ready to deploy to a Muslim country and wanted to blend in a little better. She interchangeably covered her hair with a hijab or a wide bandana every so often on the base. Soldiers repeatedly harassed her and asked if she was “becoming a terrorist,” she told me.

Yasmin 2014

Yasmine, who asked to withhold her last name to protect herself, said that she now viewed social media as a crucial weapon.

"From now on I will use social media tools if a fellow [soldier] tries to harass me again," she told me. "We both wear the uniform and I've done my time down range. I should be allowed my freedom to express my faith with [the] hijab."

Alaa Basatneh is a human-rights activist and a writer at Fusion focusing on the Arab world. She is the protagonist of the 2013 documentary "#ChicagoGirl."