How it is like to live in US: Story of Huma Mahmood Abedin
Even though many Arabs and Muslims would like to live in the US, they examine the pros and cons of living permanently in that country before making a decision. Living in the United States has two sides: The bright side and the dark side. Both sides are clearly evident in the case of Huma Mahmood Abedin.
But who is Huma? She is a young Muslim lady from an Indian father and a Pakistani mother. Both her parents received doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Apparently, while they were doing their graduate studies in the US they had their daughter Huma, who was born in 1976 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Sayed Zainul Abedin and Saleha Mahmood Abedin moved to Jeddah when Huma was two years old. Her father Sayed passed away in 1993, and her mother continued teaching at Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah. After the death of her father, Huma returned to the US to complete her studies at George Washington University.
In 1996, she started working as an intern for the White House and was assigned to Hillary Clinton. Since then she worked as an aide to Clinton up to 2008 when she worked as a traveling chief of staff during the campaign for the democratic nomination for the presidential elections, and then a deputy chief of staff and aide to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which is a high-ranking job.
This is a real and wonderful American success story. But it has the two sides. The bright side of living in the US is that almost anyone, regardless of religion and ethnicity, could be given the opportunity to excel and achieve her/his dreams, including holding a high office in the government.
Huma was a teenage girl when her father died, and she could have stayed in Jeddah and enrolled at Dar-Al-Hekma where her mother teaches and graduated like any other girl in this college. But she decided to go on her way to continue her education in the US, becoming one of the 40 most influential civic leaders in the US. One never knows, she could be the US Secretary of State, and she might come to Saudi Arabia and visit Dar-Al-Hekma College.
The dark side of living in the US is only pertinent to Arabs and Muslims and does not involve other religious or ethnic groups. Muslims have little political clout in the US, and as a result, they have become the easiest target of attack by other groups.
It is noticed that public figures and opinion makers, such as politicians, religious leaders, educators and media personality, can attack Islam and get away with it as if it is a normal practice, while they cannot do so with other religions. While some religious leaders make blasphemous statements against the Prophet (peace be upon him), no Muslim ever says anything against Jesus Christ or the Bible, because Qur’an holds them in high esteem. Moreover, every ethnic group can easily build their places of worship, schools and community centers without any impediments, while Muslims cannot do the same. Media outlets may attack Islam, Muslim cultures, and people, and engage in name-calling, but they cannot do the same with other US groups. These could be frustrating and self-defeating for Muslims.
These negative aspects of living in the US that center on Islam, ethnicity and culture make a Muslim feel alienated. On top of that, a Muslim's integrity is always questioned.
The story of Huma could be presented as an example of the bright and dark sides of living in the US. Five US Republican congresspersons, among them three members of the Intelligence Committee sent a letter to the inspectors general at five federal agencies asking them to investigate the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on State Department policy, citing a report by the Center for Security Policy that reported Huma Abedin has three family members connected to Muslim Brotherhood operative and/or organizations. Those members are her late father, her mother and her brother.
Although these allegations practically and logically cannot hold water, those Republican congresspersons aimed at ruining a Muslim woman's political career. They have done that because they know she belongs to an ethnic and religious group that is vulnerable to attack and smear campaign and no one would come to her rescue.
Surprisingly, the bright side of the US turned swiftly and decisively to Huma's favor. The accusers were told that the role of the Intelligence Committee is to examine the threats to US national security and that the committee — which has access to classified information — cannot be used for personal political games. People for the American Way (PFAW) called on House Speaker John Boehner to remove Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who spearheaded the accusations. Also several Republican congressmen and senators rejected those allegations against Huma.
Few bad experiences can override plenty of good ones, damaging one's soul and life, and hard to return to be the same again. Nevertheless, the bright face of the US is always glowing.
- Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Zuhayyan is a Saudi
academician based in Riyadh.
This article is exclusive to Arab News.
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