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Sun Princess discusses being Muslim in El Paso

She’s a 19-year-old El Paso woman who is not only Muslim, but also a UTEP student and Sun Princess with the 2015 Sun Bowl court.

Her name is Hala Abdel-Jaber and she’s finding these are turbulent times at a special moment in her life.

In wake of the San Bernadino attacks and recent comments from Donald Trump about banning muslims from entering the United States, Abdel-Jaber had a lot to say about what’s happened during the past couple of weeks here in America.

“The number one thing when I applied to be a Sun Princess was mainly because I wanted to show that its OK to be different,” said Abdel-Jaber, who is also a senator at-large for the UTEP government association.

Her parents are from Kuwait, but the Coronado High grad is red, white and blue through and through.

“I was born and raised in the states,” Abdel-Jaber said. “Yes, I do represent my culture very, very heavily. But I think at the same time I am as American as American comes.”

And that’s why she condemns the San Bernadino attackers, including a Muslim woman.

“When I learned that it was a Muslim woman, I was deeply hurt as a Muslim woman, because that’s not what our culture stands for or our religion stands for,” she said. “And now I feel that as a Muslim woman, I am being targeted because of the actions of another.”

Hala told me she feels the stares, especially over the past couple of weeks.

“I have been called a terrorist just because I say that I’m Muslim and it hurt,” she said.

It was only made worse by Trump’s recent comments calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

“It’s just really, really hurtful to know that in a country that I’ve grown to know and love, there are people in this country that don’t want me here and that’s the hardest thing,” she said.

She began to cry when asked if her parents are concerned about her.

“My parents are worried,” she said as she cried. “It’s a scary thing to think about and at the end of the day, I trust my community … I trust where I live and I hope that the El Paso community accepts me for who I am, and accepts me — Muslim and all.”

Abdel-Jaber said she doesn’t hate Trump for what he said, but rather sees it as an opportunity to explain the real meaning of Islam and become a stronger person.

At the end of the day, she said she’s proud to be an American, a Texan and an El Pasoan. She said she loves El Paso because it’s so diverse and allows people of all backgrounds to grow.

In parting, she said, “if we fall in to the hatred, then we will fail, but if we put our hands together, we will be able to overcome it.”

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