Opinion: Act of Kindness Uplifts American Muslim

June 23, 2005

Source: The New York Times


On June 23, 2005 The New York Times ran an opinion piece by Fatina Abdrabboh, a student at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. She describes her experience at a gym in Cambridge which she frequents, but where she is uncomfortable because she can feel the constant stares of onlookers as she works out wearing her hijab (head scarf). One morning Fatina was feeling particularly self conscious as the televisions in the gym were airing various aspects of the conflict between the United States and the "Muslim world." As she was running on a treadmill, her keys fells from the machine. Al Gore, former vice president of the United States, was on the treadmill behind her and picked up the keys to hand them back to her. Fatina was moved by his act of kindness. "It was nothing more than a kind gesture, but at that moment Mr. Gore's act represented all that I yearned for -- acceptance and acknowledgment. There in front of me, he stood for a part of America that has not made itself well known to 10 million Arab and Muslim-Americans, many of whom are becoming increasingly withdrawn and reclusive because of the everyday hostility they feel. It is up to us as Americans to change how the rest of the world views us by changing how we view some of our own citizens. Mr. Gore's act reminded me that rather than running away on my treadmill, I needed to keep my feet on the soil in this country. I left the gym with a renewed sense of spirit, reassured that I belong to America and that America belongs to me."