SOMERSET, N.J. — Arif Rafiq dreams of becoming the first Muslim president
of the United States.

The 23-year-old Georgetown University political science student is all cell
phones and e-mail and Google searches and boundless optimism that, in this
country, anything is possible.

“My administration would be rooted in traditional American values,
particularly a sense of individual responsibility,” he says. “It would be
open to the America of old, and also an America of new Americans from
different parts of the world.”

Rafiq was one of about 120 young Muslims attending a forum this weekend
aimed at developing new leaders for the Muslim community in America _ a
mission made more urgent by the aging of the immigrant generation that
settled here decades ago, establishing businesses and mosques, and laying
the groundwork for the next generation.

Call them Generation M: A group of 20 and 30-something doctors, lawyers,
software engineers, sales executives and college students, all of whom
happen to be Muslim and who want to more fully participate in their own
American dreams.

“We’re focused on turning out a new generation of Muslims to face the
challenges that they’ll encounter as leaders of the Muslim community after
9/11,” said Ibrahim Mansour, one of the organizers of Muslim Leaders, a
Secaucus-based organization that has held similar conferences for the past
six years.

Much of the emphasis is on outreach efforts to non-Muslims, and better
integration with and participation in every aspect of American society.

“This is about us stepping up and joining the communities and using our
skills to have an improvement on the job our parents started,” said Shireif
Battat, 29, of Somerset”¦


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