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Friday, December 23, 2005

Editorial: “Muslims: From Unseen to Highly Visible”

On December 12, 2005 The Seattle Times reported, "For decades the small number of Muslims in our country moved quietly through the daily routines of American life — the women grocery shopping, shuttling kids, many hidden behind their veils; the men working, studying, reaching like other immigrants for better lives. Then came the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the words 'Islamic' and 'terrorist' began to run together as if there were no difference at all. Certainly, the hideous fact that 19 hijackers of Muslim faith would brutalize American civilians would reverberate many years. It has. It will. But we can't go on like this, misunderstanding, fearing, knowing so little about one another. The U.S. Census Bureau does not directly ask about religious affiliation, but the best estimate from a large national survey says there are roughly 3 million American Muslims. Other studies say the number is twice that. The first marks on a painted portrait of this important cultural group reveal a population that is young, preponderantly male and well-educated. The median age of Americans is 43; American Muslims' median age is 28, according to 'Religion in a Free Market,' by Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, a book to be published in 2006. Forty-eight percent of the U.S. population is male, compared with 62 percent of Muslim Americans, the book says. One-third of Americans are college graduates; 46 percent of Muslim Americans have a college degree... New thinking among American Muslims is they must speak out and educate Americans about their culture and religion. The silver lining of the terrorist attacks, if there can be such a thing, is Americans finally are eager to learn more about Muslims."

This article cross-posted at the Pluralism Project's Religious Diversity News. Read more there about In the Wake of September 11 and Muslims Reach Out.

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