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Muslim in Orlando

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Image: Orlando Weekly cover, Photos by Nada Hassanein | Cover design by Christopher Kretzer

“Leave your religion – it’s violent!” That’s what a man yelled to Farhana Yunus and her daughter as they were with a Girl Scout troop in Mount Dora. “Go back to where you came from!” he barked at them.

The words brought Yunus’ 10-year-old daughter to tears. When she replied, “Have a nice day,” the man shot back, “I’ll have a nice day when you leave.”

Yunus, who is Muslim, says the recent political rhetoric directed at her religion has been hard to take. But rather than shrink into the background, she and her husband have made it a point to reach out and be more visible in their community. Last month, the Oviedo couple hosted a meet-and-greet barbecue for their neighbors. They try to live their lives with mindfulness and kindness.

Just three months ago in Tampa, two Muslim women wearing hijabs, or headscarves, were attacked in separate incidents after leaving their mosques, and in January, a Titusville mosque was vandalized by a man with a machete. Just two weeks ago, a man pled guilty to making threatening calls to two Pinellas County mosques in November.

In the Feb. 24 issue of Orlando Weekly, we reached out to local Muslims to ask them to tell us about their lives and talk about how they cope with the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment. What we learned: Local Muslims have personal goals. They hold neighborhood barbecues. They stay up late watching Breaking Bad. They stroll around the Lake Eola Farmers Market on Sundays. They frequent your favorite local coffee shop. Perhaps your barista, your doctor or your cashier at Target is Muslim, and you don’t even know it.

In other words, they aren’t all that different from anyone else. In fact, they’re just like you.

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