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Tampa Muslim woman - CAIR-FL' s Shari Akram- looks back on the aftermath of 9/11

By MITCH PERRY, For Bay News9 | Spectrum News, On 09 September 2021, Read Original

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TAMPA, Fla. — While the focus this week in the U.S. media is on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, the negative fallout for many American Muslims lasted far longer than on that horrific day.

In April of 2004, Shari Akram was operating a jewelry kiosk at the Westshore Mall in Tampa when she was verbally and physically confronted in an altercation with a husband, wife and their daughter who told her to “get out of (America)” and said that her religion was “hateful and violent.”

“They started yelling and basically blaming me for terrorist attacks and my faith and tried to grab my scarf from my neck,” she recounted. The incident took place shortly after the Madrid train bombings of 2004, where a Spanish court ultimately convicted five men of Islamic terrorist activities.

“It was really just one incident – you could say maybe the worst incident – out of a series of incidents,” she adds. “It wasn’t something that only happened to me. Most of the women in the community who are visibly Muslim have a story to share.”

A New Hampshire native born to Christian parents, Akram moved to Tampa to attend USF in 1995 and became a Muslim in 1996 at the age of 20.  She’s worked for the past four years as the donor and grant manager with the Council on American-Islamic Relations- Florida (CAIR) based in Tampa.

She says that for the first five years after she became a Muslim, she opted not to wear the hijab, a religious headscarf. But five months after the terrorist attacks, she decided to start wearing it, at a time when some Muslim women were not because of safety concerns. She says it was a pivotal decision that changed her life.


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