Sep 1 2011
Hispanic woman who chose to become a baghead experiences prejudice from fellow East Harlem residents
Julissa Fikri grew up in East Harlem and never thought she’d hear hateful words in her own neighborhood about converting to Islam. Maybe she should listen to them, they obviously know more about Islam than she does.
NY DAILY NEWS “As soon as I started wearing [the hijab] I got a lot of stares,” said Fikri, 27, who was raised as a Christian in East Harlem’s Thomas Jefferson Houses and became a Muslim seven years ago.
“Even my own Latino people feel like I betrayed them,” she said. (You DID!) “They see me veiled and they think ‘she’s under [her husband’s] grasp’ and that’s not the case. “This is not a bad thing. I’m not oppressed. I’m very comfortable. I just want people to know that I’m the same person.” (Not for long)
Now, Fikri, who is Puerto Rican and Dominican, is on a mission to educate those around her (What is it about Muslims thinking they have to educate everyone about their gutter religion?) – including her own mother – becoming one of many Muslim women who have started to share her story on YouTube to educate the public. (Save it, sweetie, we know about Islam. Too bad you don’t)
“It’s something very foreign to the Hispanic community,” Fikri says of the hijab in one video. “They immediately associate the religion with the culture of being Arab, and that’s something now that I want to educate people, especially in this community. It is two different things – culture and religion.” (They may be ignorant of the fact that Muslim does not necessarily = Arab, but they know how wrong it is for a Christian woman to become an oppressed baghead)
Fikri later met her Egyptian husband, who she married in 2010 and who is also a Muslim. But it wasn’t until earlier this year, in February, when Fikri started wearing the hijab – the traditional head scarf worn by Muslim women – that she noticed the resistance from some in her community.
At one point, Fikri said she was walking near E. 117th St. and Pleasant Ave. to pick up her daughter from school when a Latino man said in Spanish: “Oh, so she changed her race. Now, she’s Arab.” In another incident, a woman at a bodega looked at her and called her a terrorist, she recalled. (Well, as they say, if the headbag fits….) “It hurt a lot,” she said, noting she was being snickered at by people who’ve known her since she was a child. “I live here. I grew up here.” (They are trying to save your life)
Even Fikri’s own mother, who is Dominican, had some reservations about her chosen religion. “Take that thing off, you’re Spanish. We don’t wear that,” Fikri recalled her mother telling her in Spanish. (She should listen to her Mama)