For a while, Suleyman Khan had changed his name to Solomon Cohen and pretended to be an Orthodox Jew. His wife and children followed suit- Maryam became Miriam, Ismail became Izzy and Zainab became Zelda. The kufi normally on his head was replaced by a kippah. He put his thick accent down to having spoken Yiddish all his life. Friday afternoons at the mosque were replaced by nights at the synagogue. He thought this would be the easiest way to avoid the watchful eye of the government that hated his religion. Orthodox Judaism and the religion of this traditional immigrant were pretty close to each other and he wanted to show the world how hypocritical it was that the president let his daughter convert to Judaism while banning Muslims from entering the country.
It was easy but also hard.
“Solomon” was attacked by a man screaming antisemitic epithets. He and his family quickly packed up and left the city, adopting another identity in a small country town. He was now Simon Collins, replacing the kufi with a truckers’ cap. Maryam was Mary, eschweing the hijab. Izzy and Zelda remained the same. Trying to live the Christian lifestyle was more difficult than trying to live the Jewish one, but it was necessary. The holy day became Sunday, and while they attended the local Baptist church they also kneeled on the mat five times a day in the privacy of their own home.
One Sunday, they met the Perry family. Like the “Collinses”, they had a darker hue than most of the other people at church and Joe, like “Simon”, felt excluded as a result.
“I’m just a Anglo-Saxon Protestant,” he said to “Simon”. “But I’m always getting strange looks from the people around us. I swear they’ve never seen a darker-skinned white person before.”
“I get that too.” “Simon” said in his thick accent.
Joe’s jaw dropped.
“Y- You’re not from around here, are you?”
“Well, let’s tell the truth. My real name isn’t Joe Perry. It’s Jose Perez. My parents came from rural Mexico. The thing is, they weren’t legal when they had me. I’m scared I- as an ‘anchor baby’- may get deported. My wife came here when she was ten. What the president doesn’t understand is that so many come for a better life in America. He’s turning the American Dream into a nightmare.”
“Simon” looked at “Joe” for a second and broke down crying. This man was just like him, an American forced to wear a WASP mask just to fit into the new system.