Politics

A Dispatch From the Muslim Girl Scouts of Astoria

In her short 17 years on earth, Amira Ismail had never been called a baby killer.

That’s what happened one Friday this month, Amira said, on New York City’s Q58 bus, which runs through central Queens.

“This lady looked at me, and she was like: ‘You’re disgusting. You’re a baby killer. You’re an antisemite,’” Amira told me. When she talked about this incident, her signature spunk faded. “I just kept saying, ‘That’s not true,’” she said. “I was just on my way to school. I was just wearing my hijab.”

Amira was born in Queens in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks. She remembers participating as a child in demonstrations at City Hall as part of a successful movement to make Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha school holidays in New York City.

But since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, in which an estimated 1,400 Israelis were killed and some 200 others were kidnapped, Amira, who is Palestinian American said, she has experienced for the first time the full fury of Islamophobia and racism that her older relatives and friends have told stories about all her life. Throughout the city, in fact, there has been an increase in both anti-Muslim and antisemitic attacks.

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