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Shadia: Thank you, readers, for the best year of my life

Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C.

November 06, 2012|By Mona Shadia

When John Canalis, editor of Los Angeles Times Community News in Orange County, told me that a column about my life as a Muslim American would make a good read and help people dispel misconceptions about Muslims and Islam, I thought, "Me? No way."

When I was 9 years old and still living in Cairo, I decided I wanted to be a reporter. My decision was influenced by my mother, Shadia, who didn't finish high school but read the newspaper daily. It was also influenced by my Uncle Beautiful, who would watch nothing but news on television and sit in our living room every Friday with my mom and other uncles, talking about the issues of the day.

That, along with my innate sense of curiosity, and the belief that journalism is an honorable cause of which the Prophet Muhammad would approve, convinced me that I should live my life informing people, holding politicians and powerful people accountable (some of them know exactly what I mean), and giving a voice to those who can't be heard.

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It wasn't easy becoming a reporter, especially when I moved to the United States with no English skills 14 years ago, but becoming one has been my pride and joy.

So when John suggested the column, I thought, "I'm an objective, straightforward reporter at heart."

Besides, I always felt that columnists had to spend most of their lives working hard as reporters before stepping into the world of column-writing.

Maybe I would do that someday, but now wasn't the time, I thought.

Almost a year after John's initial mention of the column, I went to his office asking for a challenge. He brought up the column idea again and told me to think about it.

It was a Friday when we talked, and when Monday had arrived, I knew I had to write "Unveiled."

What was I thinking, brushing off the opportunity to show Americans that we Muslims are Americans too, and that we are just like everyone else? We have families, jobs and challenges. We struggle, dream, succeed and fail. And, oh, if you're Christian or Jewish, then we worship the same God, too.

It'll be a year in December since I started writing Unveiled, and I would be a liar if I said that it hasn't been the most wonderful time of my life.

I wasn't sure I could pull it off at first, but I have grown with it and have become more versed in — and much more connected to — my religion through writing about it.

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