“The first persecution I faced in my life started when I was just a four year old child. In my country, we have a tradition where before sending children to school, the parents send them to mosque to read religious education and to learn the religious holy book.
When I went to the mosque, I got confused because there were two rows – one row for male children and one row for female children. Can you imagine for a four or five year old child like me? I just got confused – oh my God… where do I have to sit?
Yet I always had a sense in me, since childhood I liked to wear girly things, wearing paint on my nails and having Henna tattoos on my hands at Eid. I always chose sharp colours to wear like my other female cousins were doing, as well as playing with dolls. I liked those kind of things.
My common sense at that time made me decide to sit down with the female row and I thought that was totally, absolutely right for me.
But when I sat down there and opened the holy book I just found myself suddenly full of pain, like the roof of the mosque had maybe fallen on me or something.
The teacher, the religious scholar, he had thrown a wooden frame – a very heavy wooden frame – at my back and it was injured. He shouted at me ‘why your parents don’t give you ethics? You sat down with females!’. I was just a four or five year old child so I start crying and my back was bleeding, yet he comes out to me. He grabbed me by the hair and he was dragging me on the floor and bringing me towards the male row.
When I grew up I would ask my mom, ‘Mom, why was I beaten that very first day in a mosque?’. What was my sin? That question stayed with me through to my teenage years. When I became open, then I got the answer. Society. They give me the answer.”
Hiba – October 2023