Imagine moving to a new country and not being able to find a safe place to practice your faith. That is what one 18-year-old Muslim exchange student was faced with when she moved from Malaysia to Arcata, Calif., to attend the public charter school Northcoast Preparatory Academy.
As required by her Muslim religion, Nur Adiatul Amiera Binti Zulkurnain, or Atul, as her friends call her, must pray five times a day. She soon came to realize that the United States was not equipped with Muslim prayer rooms as she was accustomed to in Malaysia.
Once she started to shed some light on the issue, her new community rallied behind her. Several schools and organizations offered their facilities for her to use as prayer rooms and the assistant manager of a local bookstore even offered up two of their spare rooms for Atul to use for prayer.
“I was so touched by the kind-hearted support I found,” Atul said, in a school statement. “Tin Can Mailman gave me two spaces: they explained that one of the spaces might sometimes not be available if there are books on the floor, and in that case, I could always use the other room.”
The teenager was overcome with gratitude. She began creating a video to thank her community. As Atul was doing the final edits on her project, the shooting happened in Christchurch, New Zealand.
She included the following message on YouTube:
“The tragedy that happened in New Zealand was shocking news for both Muslims and non-Muslims. I was scared at first because I was still wondering ‘what is it like to be a Muslim in America?’ but with my community support, I know that even if we have many differences such as in religion and faith, we still can be connected as human beings.
“We will never be disconnected as long as we are being kind-hearted to each other. As an appreciation for my community and a small support for my friends in New Zealand, I made a video on YouTube to show the world that we should spread kindness and the most important is peace!”