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CAIR-CA: Muslims Retain Identity, Take a Stand

CAIR-CA: Muslims Retain Identity, Take a Stand

Sandi Dolbee, Union Tribune, 9/15/05

Teenager Ilias Hassaine, with his surfboard at Torrey Pines State Beach, is among a new generation of American Muslims coming of age – and looking to be future leaders.

The dome of California’s capitol rises above the trees, another kind of Mecca for a group of teenagers making a pilgrimage to Sacramento last month for a historic Muslim youth leadership workshop.

In Carlsbad, on a cool August night, about three dozen college-age Muslim men and women are making a bit of history on their own as they carry banners protesting a congressman’s remarks about bombing Islamic holy sites.

And in the living room of a Rancho Peñasquitos home a few weeks ago, a young girl faces her own turning point about whether to wear an emblem of her faith.

A generation of homegrown Muslims is coming of age.

These sons and daughters of immigrants, many with families still living in the Muslim world, are learning to speak out both as Americans and followers of Islam.

“Their parents were the first generation of American Muslims,” says Affad Shaikh, as he watched people paint banners for last month’s demonstration. “They are afraid to take a stand and afraid for their children, because they don’t want to risk their futures, their careers.

“But these young people … are different,” says Shaikh, himself a 22-year-old UCSD graduate who now works for an advocacy group called the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “They want to be a part of the solution. . .”

Twenty-seven students have been picked for this first-ever, statewide Muslim youth leadership conference sponsored by California’s branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

For four days, they are urged to get involved, whether it’s running for public office, writing letters to the editor or just learning how to speak better on behalf of your faith.

Islam doesn’t have to be at odds with the West, Hussam Ayloush, head of the council’s Los Angeles office, tells the participants. “We as American Muslims can play that bridge role. We can fix the misunderstandings.” (MORE)


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