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'Tangerine Scarf': A Story of Muslims in America

Dec 7, 2006 (Morning Edition)

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The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, a new novel by Mohja Kahf, is about a Syrian girl transplanted to the American Midwest in the 1970s. Kahf borrowed details from her own life — she moved from Syria to the United States as a child — but she insists that the book is not autobiograpical

Kahf delves into the cultural clashes of Muslim life in America, including racism between Muslims and bigotry by non-Muslim Americans.

"You don't realize when you're in a minority culture that people look at you as if you're this alien thing, you really don't," Kahf tells Deborah Amos.

The author recalls being in a store with her best friend when a group of Amish women came in. "I wonder how they live, I wonder what they do?" the friends asked each other.

"After we got out of the store, we looked at each other and we said, 'Do you suppose people look at us like the way we just looked at the Amish?' And we looked at each other and said, 'Yeah, I guess that's how people look at Muslims, especially [because] we were both women who both wore hijab (the Islamic headscarf), and that was sort of a revelation."

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