Islam in America: Are Muslims Integrated Into Our Society?

Posted on July 24, 2007

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Newsweek, July 30, 2007 issue

What would you tell suicide bombers who invoke Islam to justify their actions? What are the rights of women in Islam? Is it permissible for a Muslim to convert to another faith?

After September 11, many Americans asked whether Muslims living here at home were susceptible to the same extremist ideologies that had fueled the 9/11 hijackers. Or to put the question more starkly, would young Muslims here turn against America and toward Al Qaeda’s brand of murderous nihilism? Nothing like that has happened. There have been a few, unsuccessful homegrown plots. But America has not proved fertile ground for Islamic radicalism. In fact, Muslims here are more integrated, affluent and politically engaged than anywhere else in the West. They have, in short, bought into the American Dream.

Of course, that is not the whole story. Many Muslim Americans were subjected to heavy-handed scrutiny after 9/11. Throughout the country there are significant pockets of discontent that, if left to fester, could lead to deeper alienation and radicalism. But still, compared with countries like France and Britain, where many Muslims live in ethnic ghettos and lead lives isolated from the wider society, America’s Muslims are thriving.

Why that is—and the opportunities and challenges that face these vibrant and hugely diverse communities linked by a common religion—is the subject of our cover story. [more]

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