It was a typical warm September afternoon in New York, Miru Kim was walking back home with her dog Guinness, a large Canaan-mix, when he started barking loudly at another dog.
Just as she managed to calm him down, two police officers approached her.
She thought they were wondering why her dog was getting agitated.
However, they were more concerned about her t-shirt -a thought that did not even cross her mind.
It turned out that Kim had been wearing a black top with Arabic script on it.
One of the officers, the larger and more intimidating of the two, asked her what the writing on her T-shirt meant.
This alarmed him even further.
What the cop did not realize was that the T-shirt was at least 10 years old and the Arabic script said ”Lann Nasmat” meaning exactly the same as the English translation: “we will not be silent”.
It was used to protest against the war on Iraq, by an activist group of the same name.
Kim explained that she had held onto the T-shirt because she thought it was cool.
The police officer asked her to give him all sorts of information and asked to produce an ID.
When she said she did not have it on her, he noted down her apartment and phone number.
Kim was born in the US and then moved to Korea, however she returned to her birthplace in 1999 and has lived in New York ever since.
She is a Columbia graduate and is renowned for her photo projects, which often feature deserts, urban ruins andindustrial farms.
With her brown hair and Asian features, she hardly looks like an Arab – however, the fact that she was targeted because her T-shirt had Arabic script is a sign of growing fear of all things from the Middle-East.
New York Civil Liberties Union’s Executive Director Donna Lieberman said Kim’s experience was a far cry from thefreedom of expression we are so proud of in the western world.
“No New Yorker should be targeted for a police stop or interrogation because they are wearing a t-shirt with Arabic writing on it,” she commented.
Undeterred by her brush with the law, Kim posted photographs of herself wearing the t-shirt on Facebook andInstagram.
The same t-shirt design caused a stir in August 2006 when Iraqi immigrant Raed Jarrar was denied the permission to board a JetBlue flight because he was wearing the t-shirt with Arabic script on it.