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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Book Review: Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11

[Geneive] Abdo shows how 9/11 shook the world of American Muslims. Suddenly, they were seen by their neighbors -- and their government -- in the global context of Islamist terror. A combination of aggressive law enforcement, indiscriminate use of immigration laws and hyped-up prosecutions left Muslims in doubt about their place in society. Those who reacted by keeping their heads down (or veiled) to avoid attracting attention only exposed themselves to accusations of indifference to the tragedy -- or worse.

The net result, Abdo concludes, is a community increasingly inclined to separatism. Elsewhere, this has provided fertile ground for radicals such as Osama bin Laden. The United States is scarcely on a slippery slope to Europe's fate, but the security of our society, Abdo shows, now depends on a spirit of inclusiveness and generosity. In Washington, that means appointing more Muslims to government jobs, preserving civil liberties, being more attentive to their foreign policy concerns and making adjustments consistent with U.S. strategic interests. In our neighborhoods, that means an awareness that when we talk about Muslims, we are talking not about the enemy but about the person next door -- someone whose family, like those of other immigrants, came here to escape harsh and uncertain lives. [Link]

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