The following is an excerpt from Christina Cauterucci | January 25, 2017 | Slate.com |
Aside from likenesses of Donald Trump constructed from cheese puffs, Munira Ahmed may have been the most visible face at last weekend’s inauguration protests and Women’s March on Washington. A photo of Ahmed, a 32-year-old Muslim woman and freelance interpreter from Queens, was the inspiration for one of the most popular images of the Trump resistance: a woman wearing an American flag as a hijab.
Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the iconic “Hope” image of Barack Obama’s candidacy, turned photographer Ridwan Adhami’s picture of Ahmed into a portrait of Muslim resilience and female defiance, rendered in red, white, and blue. Fairey is on the advisory board of the Amplifier Foundation, an artist-activist group that made several of Fairey’s and others’ images available for free download and printing in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration. Ahmed’s picture was one of the most common signs held at the protests and march.
Ahmed took part in the protests in McPherson Square in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day and attended the Women’s March on the National Mall the following day. She spoke with me over the phone about the meaning of the original image, what it meant to pose in a hijab as a woman who doesn’t normally wear one, and how it felt to see her face used as a symbol of resistance to the Trump agenda. (Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.)
When was the original photo of you in the flag hijab taken?
It was taken in 2007 during a photo shoot for the magazine Illume. At the time, it was a small publication targeted at Muslim-American issues, and the covers were very visually captivating. [Photographer Ridwan Adhami] had the idea to have the picture shot in front of where the New York Stock Exchange building is—at the time, there was a large American flag draped over the front. The proximity to Ground Zero gave it an impactful meaning, location-wise. Since then, it’s been used quite often with online thinkpieces and editorials. Quite often, I’ll get tagged in comments of some post on Facebook saying, “Hey this is you, right?”
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