American Muslims Embrace Responsibility to be Active, Vocal Post-9/11

September 3, 2006

Source: The New York Times

Wire Service: Reuters

On September 3, 2006 Reuters reported, "Ihsan Saadeddin is proud to be an American. But he's tired of having to prove it just because he's a Muslim too. The Palestinian grocery store owner in Phoenix has called the United States home for 25 years and feels as American as the next guy. He met his wife in Arizona, sent his three children to public school and has a weakness for McDonald's. But Saadeddin says the September 11 attacks were a tragic watershed which turned U.S. Muslims from ordinary citizens into objects of suspicion and discrimination overnight. He believes it is why he was questioned at the airport for 45 minutes last month and asked repeatedly if he supports terrorism. 'Being born in another country does not make me less American than the secretary of homeland security,' Saadeddin said. Estimates of the number of Muslim Americans vary between three and seven million, including Arabs, Iranians, South Asians, African Americans and many other communities. News of domestic wiretapping, monitoring of mosques, immigration crackdowns, public support for racial profiling and bans on some Muslim scholars visiting the United States has made many Muslim Americans feel like targets of racism. Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi from Dearborn Heights, Michigan, speaks for many when he complains that officials including President George W. Bush use terms such as 'Islamo-fascism' to describe the militant threat. They say such terms are inflammatory and liken their faith to dictatorships. 'This type of thing really hurts,' said Elahi, an Iranian-born Shi'ite religious leader... Sumbal Mahmud, a corporate lawyer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who is also the spokesperson for the local Islamic community, says U.S. Muslims want to stop terrorism more than anyone because it affects their lives most. 'I'm an adult and can take it. But how do I explain it to the sixth graders at the Islamic school when they come in after 9/11 and see "Die, Muslim! Die!" scrawled on our playground?'"