New York Times reporter, Samantha Schmidt, wanted to know what it was like to be a Muslim family living in Statin Island, known as New York City’s “whitest borough,” and a Republican stronghold. The Elcharfa family invited the junior reporter into their home and into their hearts and minds, giving some much needed perspective this election cycle.
Years ago, Mr. Elcharfa and his wife, Nayla Elhamoui, fled war in Lebanon with the hope of raising a family in safety in America. But now, Mr. Elcharfa, a taxi driver, finds his five children greatly affected by anti-Muslim sentiment in school.
As Ms. Schmidt reports, “Even as some Muslim parents try to shelter their children from the news, they cannot prevent them from hearing hurtful words in their classrooms and at the playground. Their children come home asking their parents why a classmate said Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee, wants to kick their family out of the country. They ask why, if their religion is one of peace, they so often get called terrorists in the hallways.
Many Muslim parents fear that the tensions could push their children away from the faith entirely. They are struggling with how to balance guiding their children in practicing and defending their religion, and letting them embrace it — or not — on their own terms.”
In the piece, Mr. Elcharfa says he thought he had left behind conflicts over religion in Lebanon, where sectarian tensions were a deadly reality. “I came here and found the same things following me.”