Teaching Tolerance: Watch the New York Voices Video

In the immediate aftermath of September 11, fear reverberated through New York’s Arab-American community. There was widespread concern that anger over terrorism would bring about a wave of discrimination and violence directed at the city’s Muslim population. As Hunter College Professor Philip Kasinitz emphasized in a recent interview with NEW YORK VOICES, for the most part this backlash of hate never materialized. But in the chaotic days of mid-September, reports of scattered incidents in Brooklyn and Queens seemed initially to confirm our worst fears. The Arab-American Family Support Center began recruiting volunteers to escort Muslim children to school and women to buy groceries.

Arab-New Yorker Debbie Almontaser responded to this situation on both a personal and a professional level. A Yemeni immigrant who came to the United States at the age of three, she began covering her hair with the hijab only after moving to New York as an adult and observing how Brooklyn Muslims wore the traditional Muslim headdress with pride. After September 11, Almontaser and her thirteen-year-old daughter Shifa went against the advice of friends and family members and decided to continue wearing the hijab despite threats to their safety. Read more and watch the video…

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