I want to inspire a discussion about the subject “are we responsible to justify ourselves to strangers?” In relation to that I want you to consider the following story.
When a woman sat next to me on a train stop and started investigating about my hijab in broken german, I kept it friendly as long as I could. But demanding answers and telling me what to do – “You can take it off, you don’t have to wear it” – is not going to get you anywhere. So I said to her “I wear what I want and not what you want me to wear. Now please let me be.”
I could’ve said a lot more, like “You don’t even speak correct german while living in Germany and want to teach me about integration? I was born here!” or “Mind your own business” – But I cannot do that. I have to represent my gender, my religion and my skin colour. I cannot be rude to you, because then you have an excuse to say “All brown people are rude. Because I met this one person, who did not bow down to my wishes and did everything exactly as I wanted them to.”
But consider this: I am putting everything down that I was doing for your curiosity. A complete stranger. If I walked up to you and started questioning you about your hair or clothes, you would be in every right to say to me “I am not obliged to answer your questions.”
But if a muslim gave that answer it would be war on the street. I can already see the comments before my minds eye “I was genuinely interested in your culture/religion and you are giving me such a rude answer”
Let me just say: I am not your mom. I have no obligation to stop what I am doing to explain the world to you. Try visiting the library or use that magical world called the Internet to educate yourself. Especially if you are rude and demanding, I will answer you in the same way.
And don’t get on the barricades! If you ask in a friendly way you will always get a friendly answer from me.
Just consider this: If someone is giving you a friendly explanation for your questions, that’s a courtesy and not your right. Because every time that we are approached we are stopping our life to give you a piece of our time. Don’t take it for granted, because what we see is a whole range from someone being genuinely curious, to someone who wants to harass and demean us to someone who wants to do us harm. We don’t know which category you fit in.