How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Muslims in America last year: 'Like looking in the mirror and seeing a monster in place of yourself'

One of the biggest immigration-related stories of the year, one that I regret not having squeezed into my top-five list, also involved culture, religion, and a substantial dose of fear.

Nearly ten years after the World Trade Center attacks, a nationwide rise in anti-Muslim sentiment manifested itself everywhere from Ground Zero in New York City to Temecula, and many points in between. Citizens mounted protests against planned mosques from coast to coast, arsonists set fire to a mosque construction site in Tennessee, a Florida preacher threatened to burn copies of the Quran, and the overwhelming majority of Oklahoma's electorate voted to ban Sharia law from the courts, even if Islamic law had never been cited in one of the state's courtrooms.

The experience has left many Muslim Americans reeling. In the recent Bloggingheads exchange above, Egyptian-born columnist Mona Eltahawy describes the feeling she got seeing some of the news reports: "It was like looking in the mirror and seeing a monster in place of yourself."

The exchange between Eltahawy and Abdullah Antepli, Duke University's first Muslim chaplain (aka the "Blue Devil" Imam, for the university mascot) takes on the year's events as experienced by Muslim Americans. They also discuss confronting Islamophobia and drawing inspiration from the Jewish American experience, among other things.

It's one of two recent Bloggingheads exchanges dealing with Islam. Another posted yesterday, a discussion of the past year in faith between religion writers Amy Sullivan and Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, presents a different perspective on the incidents of the past year, including a lengthy exchange on what does or doesn't constitute Islamophobia, incidents that qualified as such (the proposed Quran-burning qualifies), and the media coverage surrounding it all.

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