Immigrant Muslims Balance Cultures in the US

August 7, 2005

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

On August 7, 2005 The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, "Adam Bdeir jigged his shoulders like rapper Jay-Z. Then the 7-year-old spat out the Arabic alphabet, to the beat of a Middle Eastern drum: Alif, Baa, Taa. The so-called Alif Baa rap, concocted at a summer camp among suburban estates, is a twist on an old story: immigrants and their children become part of American society by fusion. But it also captures - in the weeks after suicide bombings in London carried out by Britons by birth - why experts say second-generation Muslims here are less likely recruits for terrorist organizations... The descendants of Muslim immigrants in Europe - largely guest workers from Northern Africa who rebuilt cities after World War II - continue to live in ghettos isolated by poverty, language, religion or national origin. One nationality tends to overwhelm: Pakistanis in England, Moroccans in the Netherlands, Algerians in France. 'It's much easier to recruit in enclaves,' said Robert S. Leiken, an expert on immigration and national security at the Nixon Center in Washington... It's also much easier for residents of an enclave to feel they or their communities don't have a stake - or have been denied a stake - in their adopted country. That kind of alienation exists to a lesser degree among second-generation Muslims in the U.S., Leiken and other analysts say. American Muslims are better educated and wealthier than Americans as a whole, and a third are professionals, according to a 2002 Cornell University survey."