"I was hoping it was a joke," said the 23-year-old Muslim woman who received the text message below from a college friend. "I was waiting for a 'just kidding' text that never came."
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told BuzzFeed News that she's used to getting odd questions about her faith and her decision to wear the hijab — but she was "in shock" after receiving the text.
She said that the message was from a friend and fellow 2014 graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia.
"We had a few classes together. [The sender] was a social science major as well, so some of our electives were the same. We studied together. She was a sorority girl, I was — I dressed like — a conservative Muslim, so we were opposites."
The woman, who was born and raised in New York and has worn the hijab for almost seven years, said that she and the sender would often ask each other questions about their different backgrounds.
"It's very, very hard to offend me," she said.
"Throughout college, I automatically became the spokesperson for Islam even though I didn't want to," she said. "I was the only Muslim girl in most of my classes, and in political science in general, Islam comes up a lot, so I was always the go-to person."
"I always wanted to keep myself open so people could ask me questions, because I thought, Dumb questions are still better than ignorance."
"I would get lots of very, very weird questions from lots of people, but this text was just something so different," she said.
"[The sender] equated what I wear every day to this well-known terrorist movement."
"It wasn't simply just, 'Can I borrow your clothes? I want to be a Muslim for Halloween' — which would still be weird — [the sender] took it a step further," she said. "It was, 'What you wear is apparently what ISIS wears and for some reason it's OK for me to dress like that for a Halloween costume.'"
The woman said that she's had friends ask to borrow her "cultural clothes" before.
"My parents are Pakistani, so I've had friends who've asked me, 'Hey, I have a Muslim or a Pakistani or an Indian wedding to go to and I want to wear their clothing, instead of buying a sari or shalwar kameez. Can I borrow one of yours?'"
"That's very different," she said. "That I don't mind at all, you know? It's kind of obvious — one is just clothing, one is religious wear. You're asking to borrow an outfit for a wedding, not take something I wear and turn it into a costume."
She said she uploaded a screenshot of the text to her Facebook page because she had no idea how to respond, and was surprised to hear that the image had gone viral after one of her friends posted it to Twitter.
"Apparently ISIS costumes are a thing," she said. "I mean, I knew [the sender] had gotten the idea from somewhere, but I thought, Where does this even come from?"
"There are a million things you can think of to dress up as on Halloween other than [an ISIS militant]. So even when I saw the tweets, when I saw your post of ISIS costumes, I was surprised. It was shocking."
The woman told BuzzFeed News that she has no plans to reply to the text message.
"My logic is, even though we weren't close friends, this girl still knew me on and off for almost four years," she said.
"If knowing me and talking to me for that amount of time didn't somehow put in her mind that [her request] was very inappropriate, I don't think any text I could have sent would get that point across."
Ellie Hall is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Ellie Hall at email@example.com.
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