America’s newest Muslims arrive in the afternoon crunch at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Their planes land from Dubai, Casablanca and Karachi. They stand in line, clasping documents. They emerge, sometimes hours later, steering their carts toward a flock of relatives, a stream of cabs, a new life.
This was the path for Nur Fatima, a Pakistani woman who moved to Brooklyn six months ago and promptly shed her hijab. Through the same doors walked Nora Elhainy, a Moroccan who sells electronics in Queens, and Ahmed Youssef, an Egyptian who settled in Jersey City, where he gives the call to prayer at a palatial mosque.
“I got freedom in this country,” said Ms. Fatima, 25. “Freedom of everything. Freedom of thought.”
The events of Sept. 11 transformed life for Muslims in the United States, and the flow of immigrants from countries like Egypt, Pakistan and Morocco thinned dramatically.
But five years later, as the United States wrestles with questions of terrorism, civil liberties and immigration control, Muslims appear to be moving here again in surprising numbers, according to statistics compiled by the Department of Homeland Security and the Census Bureau.
Immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia are planting new roots in states from Virginia to Texas to California.