Sept. 7 - Ten years on, Muslim Americans reflect on the struggle their communities face in the U.S. post 9/11. Elly Park reports.
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Jonathan Brewda and Sujana Kahn celebrate their engagement at the Islamic Center at New York University.
Brewda, is a recent Muslim convert and he knows being a Muslim in America begs deliberation.
SOUNDBITE: Jonathan Brewda, Muslim American who just got engaged to Sujana Kahn, saying (English)
"America is just a type of place where everybody can be who they are and yet still be part of a whole. And I think that, that's obviously a good thing but it also requires us to constantly think about what that means. Like what does it mean to be Muslim, what does it mean to be American?""
The question is echoed by thousands of Muslim Americans, who watched ten years ago in horror how al Qaeda terrorists slammed planes into New York's Twin Towers.
Among them was native New Yorker, Sulman Afridi.
SOUNDBITE: Sulman Afridi, Muslim American and analyst at a media company, saying (English)
"I felt as though… a double slap. One as an American for the simple fact of you know, this is my country, this is my home, this is my family, my people that you are doing this to. And then, in the name of my religion on top of that? How could you do something so violent?"
According to the FBI in the months that followed 9/11, hate crimes against Muslim Americans soared from just 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001.
In 2009 a proposed mosque construction near Ground Zero shook up the entire country.
Many Muslim Americans cite the lack of education as the cause of "Islamophobia."
And Imam Khalid Latif, the head of the Islamic Center at NYU, believes that the younger generation can reverse the negative stereotype.
SOUNDBITE: Khalid Latif, Imam at the Islamic Center at New York University, saying (English)
"They, as people who work in finance, people who work in law, people who are studying to be doctors and people who are studying to be engineers, they will be the ones who will be that much more effective in really changing popular opinion of what Islam actually upholds in values."
But not everything post 9/11 has been somber.
Ghassan Matli, owner of an oriental pastry shop in Brooklyn for the past 25 years says that non-Muslims in his community have been supportive; and he intends to stay.
SOUNDBITE: Ghassan Matli, Owner of Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop, saying (English)
"We are here, we live under the American flag, we love this country, this is the last country you can dream about. We are part of it, so we are going nowhere and we want to live here freely and happy."
An aspiration echoed by most Americans.
Elly Park, Reuters
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