Saturday, September 11, 2004

Cowboys Fans Jeered... For Being Muslim

The Dallas Morning News (free subscription req) yesterday published this account of Dallas Cowboys fans, the Voras, who:

stood and cheered enthusiastically when U.S. soldiers were shown on the
big screens at Texas Stadium the other night during a "fan of the game" contest. A few seconds later, the Voras were thrilled to see themselves on the video screens at the Cowboys game as the final contestants in the fan popularity contest. "We were so excited," Hujefa said. "I'm a huge Cowboys fan. And to get your picture up on the Jumbotron man, that's every Cowboys fan's dream." But that dream was soured when some in the crowd that night booed and hissed the Voras because of their Muslim appearance.

The Vora's, who wore what they always wear to the four or five Cowboys games they attend each year. Hujefa, a physician, wore a head covering and his beloved No. 59 Dat Nguyen jersey. ("My absolute favorite Cowboy.") Insiyah, an elementary school teacher, wore a rida (ree-DAH) as she always does in public, a long skirt and hooded shawl. But you couldn't exactly call this a "traditional" rida . It's blue and white with silver stars and "Cowboys" imprinted on it.

The cold slap in the face came the next morning when Hujefa listened to his
favorite radio station, the all-sports "The Ticket" (KTCK-AM). "They were talking about this Muslim couple at the game that was oblivious to`the fact they were being made fun of," Hujefa said. "And I knew they had to mean us." Later he heard all about the boos from friends who were at the game. "But part of me still wants to believe the best. Part of me wants to believe the Cowboys showed us just to show the wonderful diversity of Cowboys fans."

When the reporter talked to a Cowboys spokesman last week, he apologized and said contrasting soldiers against the then-unidentified Muslim couple was unintentional and a lapse in judgment. But when Hujefa called the Cowboys office to discuss the incident, just hoping to understand what happened, neither call was returned. "I want something very positive to come out of this," Hujefa said. "Nobody loves this country more than I do, and I want people to understand that," he said. "You can be a good American and a good Muslim, too."

Read the full article here.


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