Munira Ahmed's story all began with one photo. A freelancer from Queens, the Bangladeshi American was photographed donning an American Flag as a hijab back in 2007. The picture was snapped by photographer and friend Ridwan Adhami near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Both Adhami and Ahmed are Muslim Americans, making the shooting location especially poignant. Neither had any big plans for the photo, but it quickly went viral, sparking conversation about America's rampant Islamophobia and Muslim-American duality.
Nearly a decade later, new life was breathed into the photo when Shepard Fairey, the artist behind Obama's iconic blue-and-red portrait, reached out to Adhami for permission to use his photo for an upcoming piece. He approached him as part of "Amplifier Foundation", a non-profit collective that was seeking imagery for an upcoming project: "We the People".
Adhami gave him the go ahead and months later, the image became virtually inescapable at the hundreds of Women's Marches held on the 22nd. Marchers proudly raised signs plastered with Ahmed's face not only as an assertion of female power, but as a bold refutation of Donald Trump's inauguration and the divisive rhetoric he espouses.
"The intent was to make a strong statement," Ahmed told the Guardian in an exclusive interview. And that she did. The image of her defiant, cool countenance framed by an American flag is one that people will soon not forget. It perfectly encapsulated all that the March represented: we, the people, will not be divided. Not by religion and not by gender.
by Imaiya Ravichandran