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What It's Like Now to Report While Muslim

What It's Like Now to Report While Muslim

Sabrina Siddiqui

LGBT people know what it's like to feel attacked in your own country.

Reporting on an anti-Muslim election while being Muslim sounds a lot like reporting on an anti-LGBT election while LGBT, or an anti-Latino election while Latino.

In a column today, The Guardian's Sabrina Siddiqui described feeling like she was unsafe, including when one man told her "We should exterminate them."

"I had never feared for my personal safety while on the road covering previous U.S. elections," she wrote. "But it occurred to me in that moment I was traveling alone, clocking in countless hours in my rental car across a state I did not know."

It's moments of vulnerability like these that LGBT people feel often when wondering whether they're in unwelcoming territority. But the election even affected Siddiqui at home.

Siddiqui also felt the weight of being one of the few Muslim journalists. She felt a need to explain the personal impact that other journalists wouldn't be as readily able to see.

She considered not letting her niece watch her appearances on cable television because of what she was talking about -- that Ben Carson said Muslims shouldn't be president, or Marco Rubio attacking Obama merely for visiting a mosque, or that Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the country. When these same figures are attacking LGBT people, there are young LGBT people watching all over the world, and taking it very personally.

Here's one such experience through the eyes of Siddiqui:

"I recall the day when Ben Carson stated in an interview he did not believe a Muslim should be president of the United States. I went about my task of gathering reaction from the other 16 Republican presidential contenders almost robotically, until the tears dropped on my keyboard as I typed.

"That same week, I kept myself composed when offering political analysis of the moment on MSNBC. But I nearly lost it again later when my cousin's daughter, raised as my niece, bounded over to me at a family party.

"She was seven years old at the time and typically watched my television appearances to see what I was wearing or to admire the glossy makeup and hair.

"But this time she had a question.

"She asked: Is it true someone said we can't be president?

"I felt as though someone had punched me in the gut.

"To this American-born Girl Scout, then in just the second grade, someone hadn't simply said a Muslim shouldn't be a president. Someone had said she should not be president."

Read the rest of Siddiqui's column -- "Reporting while Muslim: how I covered the US presidential election" -- for The Guardian.

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