May 11, 2011

In Focus: After bin Laden: OK to be Muslim again?

Bin Laden's death feels 'like a weight has been lifted on both sides, Muslim and non-Muslim,' says a young activist.

By JEFF KAROUB The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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A Muslim girl passes a boy in a hallway at a school in Brooklyn, N.Y. Some young Muslims are hoping the death of Osama bin Laden will help end an era of suspicion against Muslims that began with 9/11.

Associated Press file

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"He has left a legacy of chaos and we're the ones left to clean it up," said Zeinab Chami, 26, who lives in Dearborn, home to one of the nation's largest mosques and a Middle Eastern community that dates back more than a century.

"Osama bin Laden in the end is one person. There have been many Osama bin Ladens spawned, post 9/11," she said at the Islamic center in Dearborn. "I'm glad he's gone but we can't lose sight of the fact that he's made people suspicious of Islam."

Sarsour, in Twitter postings Tuesday, said it's clear that many are still suspicious. She made reference to three recent bits of news: the removal of imams from planes in New York and Tennessee, a court filing over a proposed Oklahoma ban on Islamic Sharia law and a report that someone put pork on the door handles of a Louisiana mosque so Muslims would have to touch a meat they are prohibited from eating.

"I feel hopeful and optimistic 4 a life after" bin Laden, she tweeted, "but in the meantime I have no anecdotal evidence to support my optimism."

Issa, the Kansas Wesleyan student, agreed that Muslim Americans must reach out to non-Muslims, even if that means risking rejection.

"The only Quran most Americans are going to read is you," Issa said, recalling a message to Muslims from Maher Hathout, a senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a Los Angeles-based advocacy group.

"I think I'm willing to take that sacrifice, and now many more young Muslims are starting to take that sacrifice, facing discrimination in order to help people understand the true meaning of their religion," he said.

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