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?
Tomorrow's Congressional hearing on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism is likely to be remembered as a key moment defining racial and ethnic relations in the United States in the post-9/11 era. New York's Rep. Peter King, the Republican chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has defended the hearing as "absolutely essential;" American Muslims, along with other immigrant groups and civil rights advocates, have condemned it as government-sanctioned xenophobia.
At the heart of the conversation are American Muslims, perhaps the nation's least-understood minority. Here are a few details about a segment of the U.S. population that numbers more than 2 million:
A Pew Research Center study from 2007 identified American Muslims as "mostly middle class and mainstream." While predominantly immigrants, the study found them to be generally more integrated into American society and culture and more affluent than their immigrant counterparts in Europe.