Metro Detroit Muslims Tire of Defending their Faith

September 11, 2006

Source: Detroit Free Press

On September 11, 2006 the Detroit Free Press reported, "For a good half hour, the speaker inside the gleaming Dearborn mosque exhorted the Muslim crowd to educate Americans about Islam. 'You have two options -- hide or come forward,' Hassanain Rajabali declared at the Islamic Center of America on a recent Friday night. 'Step up to the plate. ... Islam is under attack.' But some in the audience, tired of being profiled and tired of U.S. foreign policy, were ready to quit. 'How can you justify our existence in this country?' a Lebanese-American woman from Dearborn asked. She is concerned her tax dollars were funding Israeli weapons. 'Is it haram or halal to live' here, said another, using the Arabic words for immoral and moral. The scene inside the mosque reflects the anxiety in metro Detroit's Arab and Muslim communities five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks brought them under the scrutiny of a wary public and government. That suspicion has turned some Muslims inward, filling them with unease about their future in the United States. The recent war in Lebanon -- coupled with the arrests this summer of Arab-American men buying large numbers of cell phones -- has added to their worry as the country approaches the anniversary of the attacks by Islamic extremists. 'When you're constantly on the defensive about your ethnicity and religion, it gets so tiring,' said Zeinab Chami, 22, a U.S.-born Muslim from Dearborn who was at Rajabali's talk. 'It gets to the point where you want to give up. A lot of people have got to that point.' Half of Arab Americans now suffer from depression, a study by a psychologist at Yale University School of Medicine found. And one of every three people in the United States suspects Muslim Americans are sympathetic to Al Qaeda, a USA Today/Gallup poll found."