Indiana Middle School Student Champions Civil Rights

attiaAttia Gray is a powerful example of the importance of standing up for one’s rights, no matter the obstacles we may face, either in local communities or in federal policy.

As a middle school student in northwest Indiana, Attia won the right to wear hijab, which she was initially banned from wearing by a teacher. Attia met with her school principal to overturn the teacher’s decision. Her classmates supported her efforts, recognizing that her civil rights were being violated. Her experience was written up in the local paper. Now in high school, Attia has been named Muslim Female Youth of the Year for her other work in the community.

Attia is an inspiration: standing up for religious freedom and advancing civil rights starting from a young age. I met Attia at Mosque Cares, the annual convention of American Muslims affiliated with the Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, held from Aug. 29-31 in Chicago, IL.

This was the second year I attended the convention to build relationships with faith leaders and related individuals and organizations involved with the Ministry, the majority of whom hail from the African American community.

I met Attia along with many other community members with whom I exchanged stories—of the problems faced by American Muslims, but also of what individuals and organizations are doing to solve them.

It was rewarding to hear people’s stories related to religious and racial profiling, and make the link between their experiences and what is happening in the broader community. These individuals were encouraged to learn that Muslim Advocates exists and can be a resource for them and the entire community.

Authored by Glenn Katon, Legal Director, Muslim Advocates