While zipping through the Seattle Times website for stories about religion, which are usually scarce, what should appear but a piece about how local schools are adapting to students who observe Ramadan while playing sports and attending graduation ceremonies.
The article showed an insider knowledge of local Muslims, a group most reporters would not have access to. It's pretty obvious when you are dealing with a reporter who is getting the details and facts right.
Investigating further, I saw one of the writers, Dahlia Bazzazz, is not only Muslim herself, but her family was from Iraq. She was born in Oregon, grew up close to my alma mater (Lewis & Clark College in Portland) and was editor-in-chief of the Daily Emerald, the student newspaper for the University of Oregon.
More recently, she’s been covering the education beat for the Seattle Times, which is how she came to write this:
As Renton High School seniors walked across the graduation stage on Wednesday, fellow graduate Sawda Mohamed stayed home with her family.
The 18-year-old had purchased her cap and gown, but earlier in the school year decided to skip the ceremony. Despite her mother’s protest, Mohamed described her choice as a fitting end to years of frustration she experienced in a school system she felt had little respect for her Muslim faith.
“Honestly, because everything I’ve dealt with in the past, just let it be,” Mohamed said earlier this week. “I bought the cap and gown for memories of the hard work and everything I accomplished, but it’s just not worth it at this point.”
This year, the most stressful time of the school year coincided with the holiest time for Mohamed: Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset for a month in order to focus on spiritual growth, family and charity.