As Europe tries to assimilate its Muslim populations, many in the United States are taking a different approach—they're trying to marginalize us.
On whole, Muslims living in the United States are assimilated. Many of us were born here and raised non-Muslim. Many were born into indigenous Muslim families. Many are first generation Muslim Americas, born in the United States and just as “American” as their Christian, Jewish, and atheist peers. Many left other countries by choice and are nationalized citizens. We live, work, play, rejoice, and mourn side-by-side with our non-Muslim neighbors. We are Americans.
Are we different? No more than many others in this melting pot we call home.
We don’t drink, but lots of people don’t drink.
We don’t eat pork, but lots of people don’t eat pork.
We dress modestly, but lots of people dress modestly.
We pray, but lots of people pray.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people have told me to “go back to my country” because they see that I wear a hijab from my photograph. What an odd assumption in a country that prides itself on its diversity. Have they ever seen a photograph of a Mennonite or an Orthodox Jew or a lady going to church on Sunday or a skateboarder wearing a beanie? Covering one’s head is not particularly rare here.
Are we the first group with extremists or other woefully misguided individuals? Hmmm—let’s see. That’s easy. No. Do rational people blame all Germans for the Nazis? Or all Russians for the Shining Path? Or Buddhism for Aum Shinrikyo? Or Catholicism for Pope Urban II or the pedophiliac priests? Blame placed on an entire group or people has never passed the test of time.
So why marginalize assimilated Muslim Americans? Doesn’t that seem counterproductive to you? The question to ask is ‘Who wins if Muslim Americans are marginalized’?