This story was originally published on April 5th, 2016.
I was walking down Carmine Street two summers ago with an iced coffee in my left hand, and my arm, decorated by a small Israeli flag bracelet, was bent towards my mouth. This was in the thick of an especially bloody conflict between Israel and Gaza and an oncoming looker, upon noticing the bracelet, shouted at me, “Racist murderer!”
It was one of few times I’ve been the butt of anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist sentiment in New York. I felt violated and misunderstood.
In some ways, it proved the power of fashion — how what you put on your person will ultimately command what the world chooses to see of you — but mostly, I was frustrated. Perhaps by this very power: here was a man who’d written a story about who I was in the 5-second flash we intersected, and I remained silent.
Following the November attacks in Paris, December attacks in California, January attacks in Turkey, March attacks in Belgium and Pakistan, the violent persecution that is committed daily across the world under the radar of the media machine — and now, nearly a year following the original publication date of this story, on the Monday morning after President Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban” has been put into effect, I’m thinking. About that summer day and how I felt and how those on the receiving end of an anti-Islamic bias in America are managing the grim effects of unfounded judgement in an especially tumultuous and unique political climate.
Which is where the following stories, from seven Americans sharing their experiences with Islamophobia (and more broadly, being Muslim in America) come in. Today we must demonstrate our kindness, recognize prejudice and with a common interest in mind — our safety and our freedom — honor the very simple virtue that, above all else, it is our humanity that keeps us alive.
Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.