Austin American-Statesman – Feb. 3, 2017
Houston native Shazia Ashraf was among hundreds of people at the Texas Muslim Capitol Day rally Jan. 31.
But among the hundreds of other people there to show their support for the Muslim community, Ashraf ran into and had a conversation with Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of the 36th president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson.
Her Facebook post describing this encounter has gone viral, with more than 1,000 reactions and hundreds of comments and shares.
Ashraf recounted how as she was leaving the rally and heading back to a parking garage, a woman approached her with a hug, saying she was very sorry and asking how she could help. Ashraf said she told the woman that Muslim women are not oppressed. “We are strong, opinionated, and our religion gives us more rights than our government does,” Ashraf said in her Facebook post.
She added that people need to be more politically engaged – and that was when the woman introduced herself as Luci Baines Johnson.
Ashraf said she and her two boys were starstruck after meeting and having a conversation with Johnson. “And my gratitude to Him increases insha’Allah,” Ashraf wrote.
Ashraf said the encounter with Mrs. Johnson was very short, but the perfect way to end her trip to Austin.
Since then, Ashraf said she has received a lot of heartwarming feedback from her Facebook post and was not expecting it to gain as much attention as it has. Mrs. Johnson’s son, Patrick Lyndon Nugent, reached out to Ashraf through Facebook messenger shortly after Muslim Capitol Day and Ashraf said she again thanked him for the encounter with his mother.
This was Ashraf’s first time attending the Muslim Capitol Day, but it was not her first time at a rally. Ashraf was among the estimated 20,000 women at the Women’s March on Houston and said she is always busy with political activism, calling and emailing her representatives daily and attending events.
Ashraf serves as the Chair of Sister’s Committee for the Islam Society of Greater Houston, where they are dedicated to keeping Muslim women engaged in all aspect of life including politics, religion and education. Ashraf said she wants female Muslim voices to be heard.
“I’m a citizen. I was born here and grew up here. I love Texas and I love America,” Ashraf said in a phone interview. “We [Muslims] work hard, we believe in America, we belong here and we are tired of being seen as the other. We love this country and there’s no place for us to go but here.”