Muslim-American On Obama: 'I Was There' In the days leading up to the inauguration, former Tell Me More intern Leila Taha tells what it means to be an Obama supporter, an American citizen and a Muslim.

Muslim-American On Obama: 'I Was There'

Muslim-American On Obama: 'I Was There'

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I'm an inconspicuous, vaguely Middle Eastern-looking girl. People in the hallway here at NPR like to comment on my age, telling me I don't look older than 16.

I'm of Palestinian Muslim decent, I can speak Arabic, and the Middle East is close to my heart. But I'm also firmly rooted in my home state of New Jersey- whose reputation is a great injustice.

You would never guess from looking at me, but I was at the center of this year's presidential election. You didn't see me handing out campaign buttons, or on TV, but I was there.

When the e-mail rumors warned people Barack Obama was a Muslim, like myself and 2 billion others, I was there.

When voters attending a rally in hijab, like my aunt wears, were asked move away from Barack Obama's podium and out of view of the cameras, I was there.

When they nicknamed him Osama, when they called Michelle "baby mama", I was there.

When McCain said "No ma'am, he's a decent family man", to a woman who thought Obama was an Arab like me, I was there.

When, in a show of solidarity, my friends changed their names on Facebook to "John HUSSEIN Doe" and "Jane HUSSEIN Smith", I was there.

When Troy Davis received a stay of execution, I was there, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

When we went to Baltimore on election day, and drove past block after block of poverty, desperation, I was there.

When a young man — younger than me — explained that he couldn't afford college, he couldn't join the army because of a health problem, and he had heard about the Jena 6, and decided to vote, I was there.

When Jennifer Hudson was on this show, weeks before her family's tragedy made headlines, I was there.

When the Maryland State Police spied on students at my university, who openly opposed the war and the death penalty, I was there.

When Colin Powell spoke on Meet the Press against the disenfranchisement of Americans just like me, I was there.

And when, despite it all, Americans went to the polls and elected a closet-Muslim, madrasa student, PLO terrorist sympathizer, wealth-spreading socialist, I was there.

I'm not saying I was out there waving anybody's flag. And I know it's not the end of racism. It's not the end of Islamophobia, either. But it sure is something, and I can still say that when it happened, I was there.