US Muslims, Arabs Becoming Political Faithful

August 22, 2008

Author: Jeff Karoub

Source: The Associated Press

Faced with a choice of White House hopefuls they fear are not entirely sympathetic to their issues, American Muslims are stepping up their activism to unprecedented levels in hopes they can influence the upcoming administration in its infancy.

The efforts stem in part from difficulties many Muslim- and Arab-Americans say they have experienced since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, where they have found themselves on the defensive and struggling to convince at times skeptical fellow citizens that they can be both Muslims and loyal U.S. citizens.

"I've never seen the level of activism I now see," said Shibley Telhami, a Mideast scholar at University of Maryland and fellow at the Brookings Institution.

"The number of people who have become more active and visible on the national political front has increased dramatically because people have suddenly sensed that they have to be more active in order to ... defend themselves as Americans, defend themselves as Arabs and Muslims," he said.

While not all Arabs are Muslims or vice versa, they face similar problems and share many of the same concerns.