[Media prompt] If you want to know about Muslim women’s rights, ask Muslim women.
The Case of the Curious Questioner
Addison White looked at the address, and then up at the number above the door. Forty-four Masjid Lane was correct. She pressed the buzzer and waited, putting a finger discreetly to her nose to mask the odour of trash thrown into the gutters from upstairs windows. When the lock clicked, she pushed the door open. The smell inside was worse than in the street, and Addison stopped for a moment to remind herself why she was here. While others might be happy to wallow in ignorance, the more responsible had a duty to inform themselves. She looked down at the flyer she had in her hand again.
“Muslims are the true feminists! If you want to know more about Islam and Muslims, then ask me, Linda Ahmad. Only $100 for 30 minutes. Ask me anything.”
Addison folded the paper and slipped it into her jacket pocket.
“Ask her if she still has a clit,” David O’Toole said when she showed it to him.
It was people like him who caused all the problems in the first place. She had been concerned for him when his company announced layoffs, but now she was secretly pleased. And just yesterday, Esther Cohen had told her she had heard David’s position had been filled by a Pakistani migrant. Neither of them laughed out loud, but Addison could tell they both wanted to.
Addison walked up the steps, avoiding several large black bin bags packed to bursting with rubbish. She heard a door slam on one of the floors above, and a baby crying. A man yelled out something in a language she did not comprehend. The voices from a dozen television shows mingled into word soup.
At the door, she rearranged her scarf so that none of her hair was showing, then knocked politely but firmly. A television blaring from inside fell silent, and Addison heard something fall onto the floor, perhaps a glass, followed by a loud and distinctively male voice saying, “Shit.”
When the door opened, a large bearded man blocked the entrance and looked Addison up and down.
“I’m looking for Linda,” said Addison. “I’m sorry, I might have the wrong address.”
The man smiled and said, “No, no you’re right. Linda is, ah, praying. She’ll be with you in a moment. Come in.”
He held the door open and stepped aside. Addison swallowed, but her mouth was dry. The floor seemed cold under her feet.
“We’re only Muslims,” the man said. “We don’t bite.”
“No, it’s not that,” said Addison, her face reddening.
When she was inside she saw two other bearded men. One of them, the older one, said, “Take her scarf off.”
Addison felt the man behind her pull it from her head, jolting her neck back enough to hurt. She started to protest, but the man gripped her upper arms, propelling her towards the other two.
“Nice,” said the older man. “She’ll fetch a good price.”