American Muslims Are Young, Politically Liberal, and Scared

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Muslims may be the religious group that’s most talked about and least understood in the U.S. President Trump has put Islam at the center of his policymaking, making shaky claims about how assimilated Muslims are into American life. And yet, in part because the group is so small, actual data about their religiosity, political leanings, and engagement with American culture is relatively scarce.

A new survey from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, or ISPU, offers a rare look at this changing community. The report covers interviews with nearly 2,400 American residents from diverse religious backgrounds, including roughly 800 Muslims. The data suggest that this rapidly growing group is strongly shaped by a few factors. U.S. Muslims are younger and more liberal than their neighbors. They tend to be fairly religious. And they are extremely anxious about what’s happening in America.

Over the past decade, the Muslim community has grown significantly. According to the Pew Research Center, their share of the U.S. population more than doubled between 2007 and 2014. The group now makes up roughly 1 percent of the populace.

Muslim identity has evolved along with their population size. George W. Bush-era conventional wisdom held that Muslims were a natural constituency for the Republican Party. By the 2016 election, that had radically changed: ISPU found that only 15 percent of Muslims in their survey wanted Trump to win over Hillary Clinton in November, including those who are not eligible to vote.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC 

Islam in America

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Lynsey Addario made a name for herself photographing conflict in the Muslim world: women living under Taliban rule in pre-9/11 Afghanistan; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the civil war in Libya; the genocide in Darfur; the ongoing refugee crisis. Some of those images earned her a MacArthur “genius grant” and a share in a Pulitzer Prize, and her experiences—she’s been kidnapped twice, in Iraq and in Libya—gave her plenty of fodder for a recent memoir (soon to be a movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Jennifer Lawrence).

Lately, though, the Norwalk, Connecticut–born, London-based photographer, who has lived abroad for years, has been more and more interested in training her lens on her own country. “It’s a very important time to be working in America,” she says. “We see this rise in hate. People seem to be governing by fear. In my time abroad, I’ve realized that so many people look to America for guidance, to be the country to fall back on. People are confused about what’s going on.”

When Vogue sent Addario to the Baltimore area to follow a handful of American Muslim women for a week, photographing their daily routines, it was early January: Donald Trump had been elected but not inaugurated; the Islamophobic rhetoric of his campaign was fresh in people’s minds, but his outrageous, ill-conceived “Muslim ban,” and the wave of protests that it sparked, were not yet a reality. There’s a sense, looking at these images, of the calm before the storm.

There’s also a sense of how individually each woman wears her faith. “We’re not a monolith,” says Zainab Chaudry, a Baltimore-born Muslim of Pakistani descent and a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “There’s this idea that we’re all cookie-cutter versions of one another. The fact is, we come from very diverse backgrounds. We all have unique experiences that define who we are.”

If there’s one experience many share, it’s that of having their hijab misunderstood. In this country, Muslim women—many of whom choose to cover their heads—are often the most public, visible symbol of Islam. Their head scarves make them targets, not only for Islamophobes but also for misinformed non-Muslims, who see the practice as a marker of oppression. “I could probably write a book,” Chaudry says, laughing. “The condescending statements. The sympathetic looks. The Oh, you poor thing. It’s like: No, no, you’ve just never been inside a Muslim household. In many cases the woman is the one who calls the shots.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOGUE MAGAZINE

Instead of Pitying American Muslims, Work With Them

US-VOTE-MUSLIMSDr. Robbins is the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Massachusetts.

by John Robbins

In the weeks since the election, the American Muslim community has seen a massive outpouring of support. As a community advocate, I’ve personally received hundreds of e-mails and calls from people asking how they can help, and letting me know that they’re with us and will do everything that they can to aid us during this time. People across the political, religious and political spectrums have reached out to their Muslim neighbors like never before and have offered to aid us in any way needed.

But the tone, the tenor, of these messages of support concerns me.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m extremely moved and grateful for this outpouring. But in the rush of people lining up to help the American Muslim community, many are motivated by an urge to protect those who are weaker, those who can’t help themselves.

Right now, Muslims in America are pitied. And an object of pity is not respected, valued or recognized as having strength.

Too often, the giver of aid is positioned above the receiver, so that the movement of anything of value is purely a one-directional interchange between those who have and those who don’t. When we accept this support (and I’m not saying we shouldn’t), it reinforces the idea that Muslims are in need, and that the wider—usually white—community has something to offer, but doesn’t need anything in return.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME MAGAZINE 

An Idiot’s Guide to Islam in America

US-POLITICS-RELIGION-OBAMAIslam hates us.” That was a recurring theme of your campaign, Mr. President-elect.

And who can blame you? After all, your top advisors on Muslim affairs — Ann Coulter, Frank Gaffney, and Walid Phares — are card-carrying Islamophobes. Your incoming national security advisor, retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, wants Muslim leaders to “declare their Islamic ideology sick,” and your special advisor, Steve Bannon, has been accused of using his Breitbart News Daily radio show to instigate “fear and loathing of Muslims in America.”

But now that you’ve announced it’s time for America to “bind the wounds of division,” it might be useful for you to learn a little bit more about one of the most alienated segments of the nation you now lead: American citizens who also happen to be Muslims.

I get that you’re worried about what you call “radical Islamic terrorism.” I’ve been reporting on extremists who claim to represent Islam since I covered the first anti-American suicide bombings in Beirut in the early 1980s, so I share your concern. I’ve seen friends die and others waste away in captivity at their hands. And I’ve come awfully close to being a victim myself a few times. But I’ve also learned that Muslims come in many colors — literally and figuratively — and my doctorate in Islamic studies helped me understand that the religion itself is interpreted in many different ways. In fact, America’s 3.3 million Muslims, the other 1 percent, are developing their own take on what it means to follow Islam.

The jihadis are already rejoicing at your election because — their words here, not mine — it “reveals the true mentality of the Americans and their racism toward Muslims and Arabs and everything.” But what do they know?

When Bill O’Reilly asked you whether you thought American Muslims fear you, you replied, “I hope not. I want to straighten things out.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE 

You Belong’: Man Offers Message of Support to Muslim Community

“You belong. Stay strong. Be blessed. We are one America.”

That’s the message on a sign that a man named Justin Normand recently held outside of the Islamic Center of Irving in Texas.

The gesture has warmed the hearts of many members of the center’s mosque and thousands more across the country, according to ABC station WFAA in Dallas.

A photo of Normand and the sign posted to Imgur this past Friday, Nov. 25, has been viewed more than 450,000 times as of this afternoon.

Normand, a Presbyterian Christian, wrote in a Facebook post this week that his sign was about showing solidarity with the Muslim community — which has been experiencing a “tremendous level of fear” after Donald Trump‘s surprise victory in the election, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

FULL ARTICLE AND VIDEO FROM ABC NEWS 

Muslim ‘Twoness’: Fearful Of Some, Feared By Others

npr-twoness_wide-2388905bcfc7763435cbd54c9a1cf7e15e00c33b-s800-c85He leaned against the subway doors in a faded denim jacket, camo cargo pants, combat boots and, to top it off, a black ski mask. I wondered if he had a gun. I wondered if he was a white supremacist. I wondered if he had seen my friend and me, with our brown skin and black hair. Our Islamic faith and immigrant parents — could he somehow see that, too?

Was it me, or were his eyes darting up and down the crowded subway car? I yanked on my friend’s sleeve and raised my mouth to his ear.

“We have to get out of here,” I said.

I told him to hop off the train with me at the next stop and get back on, three cars up the platform.

Many of us have grown used to the suspicion. Amid a wave of frightful attacks carried out by extremist Muslims across America and Europe, everyday Muslims fear we’ll suffer reprisals for a violent ideology that we, too, find abhorrent.

It feels as though we’re being tested daily — like anyone who sees us on the street or in the store is deciding our ideology for us. Some have made the painful decision to forgo aspects of their faith in an attempt to ward off assaults. Others are afraid to leave their homes.

I have lived a life praying it wouldn’t come to this. I never wanted to believe that I am threatened because of who I am. But recent events have made me think that I really don’t belong in the land of my birth.

No one has articulated this paradox for me quite as well as the late scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, who called it the “peculiar sensation” of “double-consciousness.” It is “this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others,” Du Bois wrote in The Souls of Black Folk, his seminal work on race in America. It’s a way “of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR

Khizr Khan and the Presidential Election Mark a Muslim Moment in American History

Khizr Khan challenges Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to read his copy of the U.S. Constitution at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaContrary to the famous poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty that calls out to the world, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and setting aside the spirit and ideas of the great Founding Fathers onreligious pluralism, the United States has a history of hostility towards immigrant groups. And in this election climate, that patriotic stain has helped fuel the rhetoric of politicians like Republican nominee Donald Trump.

But long before the Trumps of the world talked of building walls and closing borders, America was exclusive. Many communities that settled in this country, I discovered in my year-long field study that resulted in a book and film both called “Journey Into America,” had to endure a period of hateful discrimination and often savage violence as they established themselves here. It would often take a dramatic bloody event, the death of someone ― or indeed the deaths of many members of the marginalized community ― before the group would become more widely accepted and eventually merge with larger American society. There is a distinct pattern that can be traced for this evolution: long decades of prejudice facing the community as it struggles to be a part of American life, a crisis which results in the taking of life or lives and finally acceptance by and into the mainstream. Though the experiences associated with each are unique and the alienation and isolation members feel may not completely evaporate, there comes a point in time at which the group ― and in some cases there is overlap between groups ―  is met with something other than hostility. It is that threshold of assimilation Muslims in this country now find themselves at with the presidential election and the story of Capt. Humayun Khan and his family.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST