Muslim Americans Encouraged, Hopeful After Obama

July 12, 2009

Author: Wendell Marsh

Source: Reuters

Iraqi Americans Wasan Alqaisi and Sumer Majid made a Fourth of July family picnic of kebab -- served on hamburger buns with slices of American cheese.

Celebrating Independence Day in the U.S. capital, the two Muslim women were doing what generations of Americans have done before them: blending their faith and lifestyle with a U.S. national identity.

Eight years after Middle East militants carried out the September 11 attacks, Muslim Americans are raising their profile, encouraged by the election of Barack Obama, a U.S. president proud of his Kenyan father's Muslim heritage.

The president, who is a Christian, used his middle name, Hussein, at his inauguration. He called for new dialogue with Islamic nations and named a special envoy for the Middle East on his second full day in office.

"We are more optimistic about the future for us here," said Alqaisi, an accountant. "They changed the way they communicate with the Muslim countries. We feel like we have more value here now. We hope that will continue in the future."