Ziad Ahmed, a 17-year old from New Jersey, considers himself religious. But he chooses not to pray, at least not in public.
It’s safer that way.
He’s an American Muslim and understands that when he’s out in the real world, away from his family and friends, the comfort of being who he wants to be, he needs to downplay his identity. So when he rides public transportation, he’ll turn his backpack with a #MyMuslimVote button around. At the airport with his grandmother who wears a Hijab, he’ll hold his breath, anxiety-filled, dodging glances from disapproving passersby who stop and stare, hoping they don’t act upon their prejudices. When he hears of a terrorist attack, his heart stops and he can’t help but mutter: “I hope they aren’t Muslim, please let them not be Muslim …” As an American Muslim young person, anxiety never seems to end.
“It’s exhausting,” he admits. “It’s exhausting to always be …