Post 9/11 Stories and More: News Roundup

In the news this week: 9/11 dominated the news cycle, and with that, we bring you a number of those stories from a Muslim perspective and others about how religion and, specifically, Islam are perceived in the post-9/11 world.

When U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison was elected to Congress in 2006, five years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he was the first Muslim-American lawmaker on Capitol Hill.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have sometimes asked for Ellison's help to give the American point of view to foreign religious leaders and media. He's also traveled to the Middle East on behalf of the White House.

"It's better to reach out and find some common ground, and I'm happy that they invited me to do and I'm glad to do it — for any administration, regardless of party," Ellison said. MPR News

Eboo Patel of Interfaith Youth Core writes:  by the 1990s, Muslims began looking outside our own community, launching projects to strengthen ties between us and the rest of the country.

The idea behind these new organizations was simple: Muslims were now calling America "home" and Islam called us to cooperate with and serve neighbors of all backgrounds.

"Home is not where your grandfather was born," says one leader, Muslim Public Affairs Council founder Maher Hathout, "but where your grandchildren will be buried." CNN

On the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, many Americans are wondering whether the risk of a terrorist attack against America has been reduced. The picture is mixed. With the death of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda is weaker. With revolutions in several Arab countries, frustrations with unpopular autocratic governments – a recruiting theme for terrorist groups – have been mitigated. But one important contributing factor has not improved – widespread anger at America in the Muslim world.

Muslims have much they do not like about how America treats them. But there is one thing that is the most fundamental: their perception that America seeks to undermine Islam – a perception held by overwhelming majorities. CNN

For Muslim-American parents, who saw Islam transformed overnight from an often-ignored religion to one of the most-discussed in the country and who can share stories of love and hate in the face of tragedy, there's a stark contrast between being a Muslim in the United States before 9/11 and after. But a new generation is coming of age who hasn't known that divide. Huffington Post

In social studies class, a boy passed Halla Abdelrahman a pocket dictionary.
“Open it,” he said.
She turned to a bookmarked page. The entry for “terrorist’’ was marked with a yellow highlighter.

Laila Alawa was bicycling to the town library. Two boys on bikes zoomed past.
“Go back to where you came from,” they yelled.

For show-and-tell, Marwa Salem brought in kahk, the Egyptian cookies she loved to make with her mother at the end of Ramadan. Some of the other third-graders scoffed.
“We don’t eat Muslim food,” they said. “You probably poisoned them.”

It was their country too, but in the weeks and months after Sept. 11, it didn’t always feel that way. Boston Globe

Barash of Farmington Hills, a former bus mechanic at SMART, said that colleagues repeatedly hurled racial slurs against him and made violent threats around the start of the Iraq war because he happened to be Chaldean — Iraqi Catholic.

One co-worker would ask him where his camel was; another placed a towel on his head and tried to imitate Arabs. Others placed photos of terrorists on Barash's time card and talked about killing all Iraqis in front of Barash. Detroit Free Press

One CNN blog author posits: September 11 didn't just change America. It changed the nation's attitude toward religion. Here are four ways:

  1. A chosen nation becomes a humbled one.
  2. The re-emergence of "Christo-Americanism."
  3. Interfaith becomes cool.
  4. Atheists come out of the closet. CNN
In a report called “What It Means To Be American,” two think tanks surveyed Americans on their attitudes toward their fellow citizens. While the results suggest that people embrace the idea of diversity, they also show a country that is sensitive to religious and ethnic divisions—particularly when beliefs are broken down along party lines. Time