Hajar Sakhi, a Rhodes College student from Nashville, was working at a fast-food restaurant in high school. One day, a customer looked at her wearing a uniform visor over her headscarf and started laughing. He left without ordering.
"My manager said, 'You're lucky we hire your kind,'" Sakhi said.
Irem Khan, a Rhodes student and White Station High grad, was with her mother at a gas station one day. They had just left a holiday celebration. As they were gassing up their Honda, a man next to them asked if the gas was running low because it was being used to burn more Qurans.
"He started laughing and began to make more snide remarks, indirectly at us, claiming that if those 'Maazlems' could do 9/11 to us, we could do whatever to them," Khan said.
Lettia Shaw, the daughter of an Alabama Baptist, was in her Cordova front yard when two guys driving by in a truck started shouting obscenities at her. "Until my husband stood up and they saw him, at which point they shut up," Shaw said.
Those were some of the stories told this week by Muslim women in Memphis who have chosen -- for personal and religious reasons -- to wear hijabs, or headscarves, in public.
The Hijabis, who spoke at separate events Monday evening at the University of Memphis and Tuesday evening at Rhodes College, say they are used to dirty looks and disdainful comments. But lately, they are feeling a bit more anxiety.
Last week, a Hijabi in California, a 32-year-old mother of five, died after being severely beaten in her home by a killer who left a note that reportedly said, "Go back to your own country. You're a terrorist."
Just about every Hijabi has heard the T-word and other forms of verbal abuse. All have felt threatened in some way. But the Hijabis who spoke this week about their experiences said they never have been physically attacked, or knew any Hijabis who had.
"Memphis is better than most places," said Noor Eltayech, a Cordova High grad who helped organize Tuesday's "Hijabi for a Day" event at Rhodes. "There's a lot more tolerance here. Most people here treat us with respect. But what happened in California has all of us more concerned."
Eltayech, Khan and Sakhi are the only Hijabis at Rhodes. On Tuesday, they were just three among dozens. More than 100 female students and professors at Rhodes wore hijabs on campus -- to raise awareness about why Muslim women choose to cover their heads, and as a show of interfaith tolerance and solidarity.
About 100 male students and faculty joined in by wearing brimless kufi caps.
"It's really hot," said Hannah Breckenridge, a sophomore and Baptist from Memphis who wore a hijab Tuesday for the second time in her life. The first time was two summers ago at an Interfaith Youth Core meeting in Atlanta, where a man spit on her as she was walking down the street.
"It was scary," said Breckenridge, who brought the "Hijab for a Day" idea to campus. "We're doing this because we want people to realize that behind every hijab is a real person."
Eltayech said some non-Muslim students initially opposed the event, saying they view the hijab as a symbol of male dominance and oppression. But Hijabis in Memphis say it's just the opposite.
"It's a woman's choice to cover or not," said Eltayech, whose parents are from Jordan and who decided to wear a scarf at age 13. She wore a hijab while playing soccer at Cordova High.
"No man has ever told me to cover my head. I chose to cover my head because of my faith and because I want people to see me for my brains, my intellect, and my behavior first, not my hair or my body."
The Quran advises women and men to dress modestly. Some Islamic scholars say modesty requires a woman to cover her entire body, including her hands with gloves and her face with a veil. Others say a woman can leave her face, hands and feet uncovered, and cover her head with a scarf. Still others just say a woman should not dress like a prostitute.
"We wear the hijab because God wants us to," said Shaw, a mother of five who talked about her Hijabi experiences at a program about Islam on Monday evening at the U of M.
"God loves women and has enjoined modesty through hijab in order to protect herself from harm, injury and mischief. She wears it knowing it gives her dignity, beauty and respect."
Not all Hijabi stories are scary.
"One day, I was at Wolfchase mall at the carousel, and a little girl about 3 or 4 was with her mother," Shaw said. "When she saw me, she turned around and asked her mom, 'Mommy, is that Jesus' mother?' "