Monday, September 19, 2011

American Muslims come of age in post-9/11 era

Kari Huus | MSNBC

...The decade since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has been tough for many Muslim Americans — from the anti-terror surveillance aimed at mosques, schools, organizations and individuals to the wave of hostility fanned by those who see their religion as fomenting hatred and violence.

But the scrutiny and suspicion have also galvanized a new generation of more assertive, confident and politically involved Muslim American leaders, and a more integrated Muslim immigrant population. After 10 years of struggle, the community is better positioned to defend its interests and more willing to reach out to the broader population

“The national tragedy of Sept. 11 put us — by no choice of our own — on the hot seat,” said Imad Hamad, national adviser for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. “For a time people were intimidated and confused by this unprecedented shock. I think we managed to get our act together… define our role (as Americans) and keep moving forward.”...

U.S. authorities rounded up thousands of young men for questioning, often with little or no grounds. And just weeks after the attacks, Congress adopted the USA Patriot Act of 2001 and other measures that gave law enforcers unprecedented leeway to tap private information and additional discretion to deport non-citizens...

For example, the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, a Muslim advocacy group that had been mainly handling workplace discrimination cases, abruptly changed gears.
“The existing law is supportive of (equal rights for workers), so we would just go to the workplace and talk to the employer. We didn’t need to sue anybody,” said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. “But in the (post-9/11) atmosphere, the public relations initiatives don’t do what you need, so you need to sue.”
Almost overnight, CAIR expanded from eight to 30 chapters and began adding lawyers in every branch. Now, in addition to helping on legal and discrimination cases, CAIR offers “Know Your Rights” classes, which brief Muslim Americans on their rights and obligations when approached by the FBI. [Click Here to read Full Article]

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