Backlash worries U.S. Muslims

Sept. 6, 2010 at 11:25 AM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Muslims say efforts to build relationships with non-Muslims have been undone by the fierce opposition to a Muslim center near New York's Ground Zero.

Anti-Muslim sentiment, a wave of vandalism, and even the knifing of a Muslim taxi driver have disturbed many American Muslims, The New York Times reported Sunday.

"We worry: Will we ever be really completely accepted in American society?" said Dr. Ferhan Asghar, an orthopedic surgeon in Cincinnati who has two young daughters.

"In no other country could we have such freedoms -- that's why so many Muslims choose to make this country their own. But we do wonder whether it will get to the point where people don't want Muslims here anymore."

U.S. Muslims have spent the years since the Sept. 11 attacks telling Americans they abhor violence, they say, but are troubled that an anti-Muslim backlash was provoked not by any act of terror but by a plan by an imam known for his work with leaders of other faiths to build a mosque and community center.

Young American Muslims are particularly troubled, imam Abdullah T. Antepli, the Muslim chaplain at Duke University, said.

"People are discussing what is the alternative if we don't belong here," he said. "There are jokes: When are we moving to Canada, when are we moving to Sydney? Nobody will go anywhere, but there is hopelessness, there is helplessness, there is real grief."

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