This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

It’s hard enough to be a young person today, but establishing a sense of identity and finding a community becomes even more complicated for Muslim youth when people like Donald Trump make aggressive, factually dubious blanket statements about Islam and gain followers in the process.

Given the current political climate, the American Muslim Health Professionals recently convened young Muslim leaders to discuss Muslim youth identity and the impact of discrimination on a young adult’s well-being in Washington, D.C.

“Just be you,” Aman Ali, founder of the video series Homegrown Homies, which aims to show the human side of the Muslim community, told the gathering of young Muslims who came to hear him speak.

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, a record-holding basketball player and founder of Muslim Girls Hoop Too, echoed Ali’s sentiments. As a high school and college basketball star, Abdul-Qaadir faced discrimination from people who saw her hijab and assumed she would somehow play differently. One kid, she said, told her, “You look like Osama bin Laden’s niece.”

“I could feel the heat from people’s stares,” she recalled, adding that she began to question whether she should give up her head covering in an attempt to fit in. Ultimately, she decided it was an important part of her identity and religion.

“We have to be proud of being Muslim,” she told the audience.

Next America spoke with Ali and Abdul-Qaadir about what it means to be a young Muslim today and what they wish non-Muslims, particularly those running for office, knew. The gist? Young Muslims are just like everybody else.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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