RENTON, Washington – Contesting in American Master Chef competition, American Muslim hijabi Amanda Saab has invited people to a dinner with Muslim neighbor to encourage conversation and abolish stereotypes.
“I want to be on Master Chef to prove to America that Muslim Americans are just like all other Americans. We like to have fun, we love to eat and we definitely can cook,” Saab told the camera in a Master Chef interview, MyNorthWest.com reported on Thursday, March 24.
Saab, a Muslim in Renton, Washington, is a social worker, and the daughter of Lebanese immigrants.
Donning the Islamic hijab during Season 6 of Gordan Ramsey’s Master Chef competition, she has become a topic of conversation on social media.
“There were some not-so-nice-things that people would say, just based on how I look. People were making really not nice comments,” Saab said.
“In watching the news, seeing Islam represented in a really negative light, I decided to turn that negativity into something positive. So I decided to have the Dinner With Your Muslim Neighbor.”
Taking a positive stand to correct misconception, she said that “Dinner with Your Muslim Neighbor” would encourage conversation and abolish stereotypes about Islam and Muslims.
“Some of the stereotypes people believe is that somehow Islam and being American don’t mesh, and that’s absolutely not true,” she said.
“Muslims have been in America since its founding. There’s been Muslims practicing their faith here. And that somehow Muslims don’t want to be American or can’t be as patriotic… I mean, [I was] born and raised here, been paying taxes since I was 16, how much more American can you get?”
Hosting the dinner, Saab said she wanted to give people the opportunity to ask her questions about Islam.
“[They want to know] When I started wearing hijab and why. So, I was 16 and discovering my faith. I was a rebellious teenager who wanted to challenge everything my parents told me,” she said.
“So I set out to find the religion that I wanted to practice. I ended back at Islam which I was born and raised into. But then when I was 16 I was like, I want to wear hijab, this is how I want to show my devotion to God and practice everyday when I wake up. My parents were like, ‘Whaaat?’ At the time my mom did not wear hijab, none of my cousins did. People are usually surprised. They’re like, ‘You mean, your dad didn’t force you?’ No! Absolutely not! This is a decision that I came to on my own and I’ve embraced it since.”
Till today, Saab has held two dinners, welcoming about 16 people at each. Seattle’s Tisha Held attended the last one.
“We were there for six hours chatting,” said Held.
“The biggest thing that I walked away with was how similar we are. That’s something people really need to understand. I said to Amanda, we are going to go out there and represent you and try and put the face of a Muslim out there so people can see the positive side, not what is being thrown out by the media in such a negative light.
“Do I have prejudices and biases against others? Yes, I do. I would be wrong to say I didn’t. Everyone does. Being aware of that but also trying to be open to changing that.”