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A teenager asks her mom: When can I wear the hijab?


It's Friday, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. In 2010, Basma Alawee came to the United States from Iraq, along with her 1-year-old daughter, Danna. The family eventually settled in Florida. Basma and Danna recently came to StoryCorps. And Danna, who's now in the ninth grade, wanted to ask her mom a question.

DANNA ALJUBOURI: Why won't you let me wear the hijab?

BASMA ALAWEE: I don't want you to, in a young age, experience what I experience every day. I remember it was the first couple of months of us being in the United States. You were in the stroller, and I was walking you to the shopping center, and someone starts cursing and asked me to go back home. I was so terrified. I realized it was not safe for me to go out by myself with a child in Orlando.

DANNA: Did you ever consider removing it?

ALAWEE: I have never considered taking it off. I want to make sure that you are ready, so when you wear it, you can handle yourself in a way that I don't worry about.

DANNA: What are your dreams for me?

ALAWEE: Strong women don't dream. I want you to live in the society where you can walk in the street and people welcome you and for you to have the full freedoms to decide for yourself whatever you want to do.


INSKEEP: Basma Alawee and her daughter Danna Aljubouri for StoryCorps in Jacksonville, Fla. Their conversation will be archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Corrected: October 21, 2022 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous introduction to this story incorrectly stated that Basma Alawee and Danna Aljubouri came to the U.S. from Iran. In fact, they came from Iraq.
Esther Honig