How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'Isn’t this the land of the free?' Growing up in an era of Muslim stereotypes

Photo by iMuslim/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Last week, Yasmin Nouh joined four other young people on the Patt Morrison Show to talk about growing up Muslim in the decade following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Here she expands on that interview, sharing her perspective in a first-person essay.

Yasmin, whose parents are immigrants from Egypt and Iran, was barely in her teens when she heard the devastating news of what had occurred in New York that morning. She writes about what followed and how, as she experienced it, helped shape who she would become.


My eyes, still heavy with sleep, lit up wide open when my father told us the spine-chilling news as he drove us to school in the morning: Two planes turned missile had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. At 13 years old, I barely understood the gravity of the terrorist attacks. When I asked who the hijackers were, he said the United States had identified Osama bin Laden as a likely suspect.

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Five young Muslims who came of age post-9/11 share their experiences

Photo by cruxphotography.com/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A girl at a rally in New York, September 11, 2010

A post this morning involved one young Lebanese American woman's experience growing up in Los Angeles following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In a first-person essay, she described the bullying that she and her sister were subjected to, a relatively common occurrence in the confusing months that followed.

But years passed and as the nation healed, young Muslims growing up in the shadow of the attacks continued to feel stigmatized. Among them were young women who wore hijab, the religious headscarves worn by many Muslim women, who endured stares and suspicion.

Earlier this week, KPCC's Patt Morrison interviewed five young Muslims who were either children or entering early adulthood at the time the hijackers attacked the World Trade Center. They shared their experiences coming of age in post-9/11 America and how it shaped them, for better or worse. An excerpt:

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More ethnic reality TV, this time with Muslims

Photo by Plaubel Makina/Flickr (creative Commons)

The crowd at Dearborn, Michigan's International Arab Festival, July 2006

The ethnic reality show phenomenon continues, this time with Muslims. The Hollywood Reporter and other entertainment trade publications are reporting on the planned November debut of a show called "All-American Muslim," which will follow five families in Dearborn, Michigan, a large and long-established Middle Eastern immigrant enclave.

From today's Reporter piece:

According to the press release, the docusoap "offers an intimate look at their customs and celebrations, as well as the misconceptions, conflicts and differences they face outside—and within—their own community."

Amy Winter, TLC general manager, called All-American Muslim "a perfect fit" for the network. "Through these families and their diverse experiences, we will explore how they blend their values and traditions with everyday life in America, providing insight into their culture with care and compassion," Winter said in a statement.

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American Muslim, or Muslim American?

Photo by NewMediaNormaRae/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Participants in last year's annual Muslim Day parade in New York, September 26, 2010

In the United States, a generation of young Muslims has grown up in the shadow of the September 11, 2001 attacks, among them KPCC intern Yasmin Nouh. Part of the discussion she has been privy to during these years is how Muslims, whose patriotism has been under scrutiny since, should identify themselves: as American Muslims, or as Muslim Americans?

Nouh examines arguments for both ways of self-identifying in this guest post, her second for Multi-American.

Just shy of a decade ago, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden opened a chapter in American history that has been fraught with widespread misunderstanding of Islam and Muslims.

Muslims, particularly in the United States and Europe, were asked to condemn extremism and to prove that they were patriotic to their respective countries. Amid the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment, one question became the norm to ask: Are you a Muslim or an American? Which one comes first?

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Q&A: A Los Angeles Muslim community leader on the damage bin Laden caused U.S. Muslims

Salam Al-Marayati, photo courtesy of MPAC

The terrorist attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden affected all Americans, but they affected American Muslims in a unique way. One of the groups that has called for greater tolerance in the face of anti-Muslim sentiment and tried to clear up misperceptions is the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which has offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The group's president, Salam Al-Marayati, addressed via e-mail today a few questions relating to the damaging effects that bin Laden's actions had on Muslims in this country, and what the future may hold now that he's gone.

M-A: The attacks of 9/11 affected everyone, but can you tell me in particular how these actions changed the way in which American Muslims live during this past decade?

Al-Marayati: We have many young Muslims who have either grown up with 9/11 impacting their identity or were born after 9/11. As a result, our image in the U.S. is dependent on the perception of how secure our nation is. With more insecurity comes anti-Muslim sentiment.

M-A: Do what degree do U.S. Muslims (and others, such as Sikhs) live in fear today as a result?

Al-Marayati: I wouldn't say fear is a driver, but more alienation and psychological ghettoization.

M-A: How have Muslims been affected not only by policies such as the Patriot Act, but by public perceptions and/or discrimination?

Al-Marayati: Tremendously, since it only reinforces the perception that Muslims are a problem in our society, either a victim or a villain.

M-A: Do you think that the death of bin Laden will have any effect, or do you think this community will subject to more of this for some time still?

Al-Marayati: We hope it is the mark of an end to a dark era and an ushering in of a new era for mutual understanding in U.S.-Muslim world relations. With the rise of democracy in the Middle East and the descent of Al-Qaeda, there is an opportunity for partnership between people in the Muslim world and in the U.S. We can't expect our governments to address issues involving culture and religion. It involves people-to-people dynamics.

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