How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Muslim refugees and new immigrants helping fuel new mosque growth

Photo by Steve Rhodes/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A mosque in Fremont, California, January 2009

Immigration is one of the factors driving the growth in the number of U.S. mosques, according to a new report that tracks a 74 percent jump in the number of mosques over the last decade. So are different patterns of settlement, as the suburbs draw more Muslim families away from urban centers.

Titled "The American Mosque 2011," the report is part of a University of Kentucky-led study. It cites several reasons for why the number of Islamic houses of worship in the country has gone from 1,209 mosques in 2000 to 2,106 last year. A few of these factors, from the report:

  • The increased number of Muslim refugees and new immigrant groups has led them to establish their own mosques where they can feel more comfortable in their own language and cultural environment. The new groups that are starting their own mosques are Somalis, Iraqis, West Africans and Bosnians.

  • The expansion of the Muslim population into new areas of a city, suburb or town has motivated Muslims to found mosques in these new areas where no mosques exist. In other words, Muslims get tired of driving an hour to the closest mosque and they decide to found a mosque closer to where they live.

  • Being a richly diverse community, the ethnic and religious divisions within the Muslim community has led Muslims to leave a mosque in order to establish their own mosque which better reflect their vision and understanding of Islam.


Seeking, losing and finding 'Love, InshAllah'

Photo by David Campbell/Flickr (Creative Commons)

How do American Muslim women navigate love, culture and identity?  KPCC's Yasmin Nouh gives us a glimpse in this Q&A with the co-editor of a new anthology of Muslim women's personal stories.

"Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women," is an anthology of 25 love stories told by American Muslim women from different backgrounds – black, white, Arab, converts, lesbians, Sunni, Shia, South Asian. Editors Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi say they compiled them to dispel stereotypes that Muslim women are generally repressed, forced into arranged marriages, or live loveless lives dictated by men.

Each tale is more than a simple love story, with complex underlying themes that these women face as they navigate hybrid identities while searching for a sense of belonging as Muslims - and as the children of immigrants, in many cases - in the United States.


Readers sound off on Lowe's pulling ads from 'All-American Muslim'

The recent decision by the national Lowe’s Home Improvement chain to pull its advertising from “All-American Muslim,” a TLC reality show, has landed the company in a public relations mess. The home improvement chain made its decision after being targeted, along with other advertisers, by a religious-right Christian activist group called the Florida Family Association.

The group has condemned the show, a reality series which follows five Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan, as "propaganda" on its website.

Here's what Lowe's posted on its Facebook page explaining its decision to pull the ads:

Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.


Readers sound off on racial-ethnic profiling

Photo by Jeffrey Beall/Flickr (Creative COmmons)

A post from Friday that featured five American Muslims discussing racial-ethnic profiling in light of the New York Police Department's Muslim profiling case, a report on FBI profiling and other recent news drew a long string of comments over the weekend, and the discussion among readers continues on the site.

The reactions have been surprisingly civil, considering. Some readers believe that law enforcement officials are within their rights to target specific ethnic communities for surveillance, while others hold firm that this kind of law enforcement action is an infringement on the civil rights of law-abiding Americans. Here's a taste of the discussion that's been taking place:

The first comment this weekend came from Jason Van Bemmel, who wrote:

How do we expect anti-terror law enforcement to protect us from future terrorist attacks if they do not monitor communities most likely to have terrorists in them?  The terrorists who have attacked us and who have plotted to attack us are Muslims.  That doesn't mean that all Muslims are terrorists or even that most Muslims harbor or sympathize with terrorists.  However, if you're looking for Islamic terrorists, the place to watch is Islamic communities.  That's really just common sense and good police strategy.  We cannot realistically expect them to do otherwise.


Five American Muslims on racial-ethnic profiling: 'This is my country. I feel insulted.'

Photo by Jeffrey Beall/Flickr (Creative COmmons)

Over the past several weeks, a growing number of law enforcement documents have surfaced pointing to the institutional profiling of Muslims in the decade after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. First, an Associated Press investigation revealed a large-scale New York Police Department effort to collect intelligence on Muslims in the New York area, with police conducted surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods, mosques and businesses, even checking out immigrants who changed their names to sound more American.

Also controversial has been the use of counterterrorism training materials by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, under fire for using materials portraying Muslims in a negative light. And late last month, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a report alleging that the FBI targeted specific ethnic communities across the United States based on race, ethnicity, religion and nationality for potential criminal investigation.