US Muslims speak about their place in America
The Associated Press
Feb. 19, 2015
President Barack Obama has argued the U.S. has one thing going for it that Europe doesn't: a tradition of warmly embracing its immigrants, including Muslims. Muslims living across the U.S. respond to his comments:
"Muslims have been here maybe since the inception of this country. The Muslim-American history is rooted even in the forefathers. President Jefferson had a copy of the Holy Quran." — Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who believes "American Muslims here feel maybe more integrated" than in Europe.
"American Muslims have been fortunate to live well in the U.S. based on our constitutional freedoms. In European countries, Muslims are made to feel as the other or the outsider. ... Still, American Muslims have not been spared from prejudice and discrimination in the last 15 years." — Teacher Debbie Almontaser, founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, an Arab-themed public school in New York.
"Yes, America has issues of racism and bigotry. ... I'm not saying that doesn't exist but there's a different level of fear and hate and unknown" in Europe. — Marium Mohiuddin, freelance communications consultant, Los Angeles.
"I personally believe American Muslims have integrated just fine throughout U.S. history, but there will be ongoing challenges in addressing issues of what happens when young people are attacked personally because of the way they dress or what they believe. ... Our communities have been attacked, and they continue to be attacked." — Shams Ghoneim, vice president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, in Iowa City.
"For being a Muslim American growing up in America, I really don't feel a part of it. ... I feel like we don't get a chance to come out into the public." — Student Jamila Nasser, Dearborn, Michigan.
Associated Press writers Jeff Karoub in Detroit, Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis, Verena Dobnik in New York, Gillian Flaccus in Los Angeles and Kourtney Liepelt in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.