America 2.0

Fatmire, 27, Special Education/History teacher: “I grew up in a really nice, small ‘all-American’ Christian town in Connecticut. I’m pretty sure I was the only Muslim girl in my school for a long time. I kind of stood out because of my name and my cultural background (Albanian) and I was very proud of my cultural background and my religion but I wasn’t really aware of my religion that much - that it was something that different until 9/11… That’s when kids at school starting calling me ‘Osama bin Laden’s daughter’. I didn’t understand because all the Muslims I had ever known were very calm, very secular… Albanians are very tolerant, we have orthodox Christians, Catholics and Muslims in our culture and everyone’s very tolerant of each other, so we weren’t accustomed to hearing that. I have this desire in me to wear a hijab but because of the time we live in I’m honestly fearful to wear it. I give a lot of ‘props’ to the girls who do wear it and I don’t know if I’m ready to lose people (in my life) because they would feel afraid (of being with me). Most people don’t understand the meaning of a hijab- that it is meant to bring you closer to God, not hiding you or being submissive. I do think (with this new administration) there might be more of an incentive now to show people the real face of Islam… one of the hallmarks of Islam is to have hope.”