Ten-year-old Eman trembled as she raised her hand. She had a pit in her stomach, the same pit she got every day after lunch when she had to ask her teacher if she could be excused to say her afternoon prayers. Her public grade school in Columbia, Mo., did not have an official policy on religious accommodations. Sometimes her teacher let her leave, and other times she made her stay in class.
The little girl's afternoon prayers depended on the whim of an adult who didn't fully understand her religion.
Eman, now a 22-year-old sociology major at the University of Michigan, is an observant Muslim. She worships on Friday. She doesn't eat pork. She wears a veil and participates in five daily prayers prescribed by the Quran. Although it has become easier to practice her faith since she graduated from elementary school, the demands of her faith are not well-understood in American society.