OPINION: How hard can it be being an Arab Muslim?

Being a female in this world is hard, but being an Arab Muslim woman working in law enforcement in the U.S. is even harder. 

No one is immune from racism or discrimination, and women all around the world have it the worst. 

Arabs, especially Muslims in general, have so many restrictions and traditions that they respect and cherish so much. Any Muslim female who does anything different or breaks the bubble that the society created for them is attacked. 

Sarah Shendy, a law enforcement recruiter for Copley Police in Ohio, said that Muslim women should speak up more and dream big. As a collective community, people are afraid to break the norms, but Shendy advises women to stop meeting other people’s expectations for a better life. 

“We need to break the cycle,” Shendy said. “Our generation needs to stop with the mentality of when you finish high school you go on and get married and have kids.” 

In most Arab Muslim communities, if a woman wants to go into something that’s not considered normal by the community, or if her parents think it’s too risky, she does not get the support she needs, because she doesn’t have her parents’ approval. So she will need to grow the courage to pursue it herself.

Society needs more women because they bring so much into the workplace. Women handle situations differently than men, and their brain works differently as well.  

An Arab Muslim woman wanting to get into law enforcement is considered a big deal. Shendy had a hard time getting support from her family and didn’t have the best experience when she first started because of the lack in support, but that didn’t stop her from going after her dream. 

“When I went to the police academy I was like, ‘My parents are going to kill me,’” Shendy said. “It was the first big move that I made. I was afraid of disappointing them.” 

She said her parents eventually accepted it when they saw that she was so passionate and loves what she does.

“If anything happens to me and I die today, I would die happy because every night before I go to sleep, I don’t wonder if I made a difference in someone’s life because I know I did,” Shendy said.  

Being an Arab Muslim woman can restrict you from so many things, but it can teach you a lot. 

Shendy said that Islam helped her to be a better police officer, and taught her to be very compassionate and empathetic. “That’s how Islam raised me,” she said. 

Building relationships with people is a very crucial part in any profession. Building rapport with victims and keeping in touch with the victim’s family is so important to her because that keeps her in check all the time. 

She often gets asked why she’s different from other officers they encountered before: “I’m Muslim,” she tells them. “I’m Middle Eastern and it’s just how I was raised.” 

“I can name a dozen people that I have made a difference in their life or that I have been such a crucial part of their growth and recovery and healing just because I met them on the worst day of their life,” she said.

Women must be able to control their own lives in all cultures and anywhere in the world. It shouldn’t be a privilege; people need to start to look at it as a normal thing, because it is. 

Sara Al Harthi is a guest opinion writer. Contact her at [email protected].


Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.