STILLWATER – When ISIS killed 130 people in a series of coordinated attacks in Paris last year, Stillwater High School student Reem Mansy was overwhelmed. She didn’t know what to do.
As a Muslim teen who wears a head covering called a hijab, she was tired of ISIS calling themselves Muslims.
Mansy sat down at her computer and in 15 minutes wrote a poem, expressing the differences between ISIS and herself.
She titled it, “They Do Not Represent Me.”
“I didn’t want people to judge me off of ISIS because I’m obviously not ISIS,” the 15-year-old sophomore said Monday. “I wanted people to know the true meaning of Islam.”
We are kind, helpful and thankful for what we have, Mansy said.
“It is the complete opposite of ISIS,” Mansy said.
The poem begins saying “Just because Muslim is what they claim, it does not mean that I am the same. For something I have not done I am blamed because of a group that is dumb. The Quran is what I read, while it is what they do not believe. The Quran is about peace while all they want is the world to be their piece.”
Mansy said her mother was surprised and proud of her for writing it.
“I remember her saying, ‘Wow, this is wonderful,’” said Mansy, who was born in Chicago to Egyptian parents but has lived in Stillwater since she was 6 months old.
She read the poem last month at the Islamic Society of Stillwater during an event that included Islamic Centers across the nation having open houses to promote communication and cooperation.
Mansy’s orchestra teacher, Scott Jackson described her as bright, energetic and dedicated to learning the violin.
“I was thrilled to see she had offered the poem to the public discourse,” Jackson said. “It is a heartfelt expression of what she believes as a person of the Muslim faith. She is obviously brave as well.”
Principal Uwe Gordon said he has heard from community members who called him to praise the poem.
Gordon, who said his first job is to care for and protect his students, said he worries about potential backlash Mansy could face.
During the presidential election, which concluded two weeks ago with Donald Trump elected as the next U.S. president, Trump suggested that he may support a Muslim database.
Many Muslims are worried what that may mean for them.
Gordon, who has been principal of the high school 11 years, said that up until two weeks ago there were very few times he had to deal with issues of bigotry but that it changed following the election.
“There seems to be a license given out for people to say whatever pops into their heads,” Gordon said.
Examples include students joking about building a wall at the Mexico boarder – something President-elect Trump has spoken about – and inappropriate conversations about a lesbian student.
Gordon dealt with the issues without suspensions or expulsions.
“My job is to educate,” Gordon said.
Mansy said she has experienced only positive feedback from her poem.
She hopes others understand its meaning.
“I want peace throughout the world,” Mansy said.
“They Do Not Represent Me”
Just because Muslim is what they claim,
It does not mean that I am the same.
For something I have not done
I am blamed because of a group that is dumb.
The Quran is what I read,
While it is what they do not believe.
The Quran is about peace
While all they want is the world to be their piece.
I am doing what is right
While all they do is fight.
We came here with a set of instructions,
In them it says do not cause destruction.
I have faced too much derision
For what was not my decision.
I am peaceful
While they are brutal.
I should not take the blame
For something that is not my shame.
All I do is care,
While what they do is not fair.
I want to make wonderful contributions
While all they do is execution.
I do not wish to be treated with disdain
Because of a group that is insane.
This world has too much crisis
But we can ease it by eliminating ISIS.
I am only me
He is only he
They do not represent me.
– Reem Mansy