Thursday, July 27, 2017

Rasha Mubarak discusses her life after Pulse.

On a sketch excursion to The GLBT Center, I watched Rasha Mubarack, Orlando's regional coordinator for the Council for American /Islamic Relations, as she was interviewed on camera. The Center was holding an event in which a large group of people gathered to offer love and support for Manchester via a video message.

She explained in an oral history at the Orange County Regional History Center, that she was exposed to injustice as a child. Her uncle was a successful businessman who lived in Isleworth Florida. His home was invaded, probably because he was Islamic. Islamaphobia had become mainstream in America. When exposed to one injustice, you become aware of others. A sheik was at the site where hospitalized names were read from a list. If the name of your loved one wasn't on the list, then it was a worst case scenario. Parents and loved ones were in despair. Some were banging their heads on the walls. This was a hard scene to re-live.

At the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts vigil, Rasha was one of the people on hand to read the names of the 49 victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Back stage, she was nervous about the idea of being a Muslim reading the names. Backstage, there was pain and comfort. Reading the names was shattering. Each name had the age next to it. Each of these people have stories. The Methodist Church across the street rang the bell for every name on the list. That moment seemed to last an eternity. Everyone assembled comforted each other. There is mercy in adversity. We are all in this together.

Right after the Pulse Nightclub massacre, Rasha felt personally affected. She went to her mosque as usual and realized that no one else knew what was going on. When she got home, she was hyperventilating and felt the full weight of the tragedy. She was soon called upon to do an interview outside Pulse. It all seemed unreal. How could someone really kill 49 people? This was clearly not a person of god, any god. That first week after Pulse, she was asked many times, "How are you?" Her stock response was, "I'm OK." One man told her something that stuck with her, "God puts you where he wants you." When he told her that, everything else seemed OK. She just needed to do the right thing, be on the right side, and keep going.

There was a backlash after Pulse, but it could have been a lot worse. Islamaphobia has increased 500% in Central Florida in the past year. What side of history do you want to be on? The Council for American /Islamic Relations is fighting for civil liberties for all Americans. At a Democratic partisan event, Rasha was pulled aside for appearing "suspicious." She fights for marginalized people and found herself marginalized.

Orlando is a place where people come to get away. On June 12, a criminal tried to dismantle that. He forever changed the lives of 49 families. How do we react when our world is disturbed? Our hearts fall in and out of love with everything. Out hearts have memory. We need to remember the beauty that came out of it all. We need to understand the diversity and stand for civil liberties for everyone.

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