San Bernardino area high school crowns Muslim Prom Queen: Zarifeh Shalabi.

Getting crowned as the prom queen or king is a big deal for most American teenage girls and boys.

For Zarifeh Shalabi, it was not different. She used to fantasize about going to her senior prom in a flowing beaded dress. However, she always doubted she would even attend the prom because of her conservative Muslim parents. Zarifeh Shalabi, the daughter of observant Muslims, has always been expected to stay close to her home and limit her socializing with boys. She was never allowed to attend a school dance or accept any invitation to parties. She was not even allowed to have sleepovers.

Zarifeh Shalabi, against all odds, last month, not only did attend her senior prom at Summit High School in Fontana, California but also got crowned as the prom queen. The path to her crown has been quite eventful.

Four months prior to the Summit High School prom, a terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslim extremists at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, killed 14 people and seriously injured 22. Fearing an anti-Muslim backlash, Shalabi, her mother, and her aunts stayed at home for weeks. Shalabi expected the anti-Muslim sentiment to be reflected in her school as well. So, it was quite a surprise for her when she found out that she had been nominated for prom queen. Her friends, as a show of support to her, started wearing hijabs as well. Savannah Smith, Shalabi’s friend and the main campaigner for her, told New York Times that they saw it as a chance to do something good, to represent something good. It was an opportunity for them to showcase to the whole world that they did not believe in racism or bullying. Shalabi’s campaign even came up with a slogan for her, “don’t be a baddie, vote for the hijabi”.

The second biggest hurdle for Zarifeh Shalabi was to convince her parents, and her other family members to let her go to the prom. She told her mother about the school rules regarding no dirty dancing, no strapless dresses, and so on. Shalabi was so persistent with her request that her mother finally gave her permission to attend the prom. According to Manal Haifa, mother of Shalabi, she was finally able to see how much Shalabi loved and respected her school.

Shalabi was able to get hold of the flowing beaded dress that she always dreamed about wearing to the prom. For the hijab, she selected a gold scarf with strings of beads, from her grandmother's collection.

The highlight of the event for Zarifeh Shalabi, of course, was her getting crowned as the prom queen. According to her, she was shocked when she was announced the winner. It was a win for Shalabi's campaign as well.

Shalabi, in an interview given to CBS, said that some people do not like Muslims. They see Muslims as terrorists. However, terrorism is not a religion.

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