April 14th, 2006
For some Muslims, changing faith traditions endangers their lives.
Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks I befriended a twenty-year-old Egyptian woman. She had recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama to marry the owner of a Mediterranean restaurant I frequented, and I wanted her to know people in Alabama accepted and liked her regardless of some of the prejudices that surfaced after September 11. She wore a fedora over her conservative Islamic hijab (headscarf) to camouflage her religious identity.
Using halting English, we shared stories of each other’s lives. She was amazed to learn I had chosen the Catholic faith in adulthood, and she asked me many times for clarification. Her husband interpreted my words for her in Arabic: “My family does not belong…