American converts to Islam defy stereotypes

Despite a growing culture of Islamophobia in the United States, around 20,000 Americans convert to Islam every year. Many converts face discrimination in their everyday lives, but say they don’t regret their decision. In the nine years since 9/11, these converts have seen bans on Muslim religious clothing and racial profiling against Muslims at airports. They say the mainstream media doesn’t help portray a good image of converts and only reports on the small number of extremist radicals.

Muslims gather at the largest Islamic convention in North America

If Muslims want to improve their image America, they have to get involved in their communities and proactively talk Islam before controversies arise, leading Muslim figures told 40,000 people gathered at the continent’s largest Islamic convention this weekend.

The message, echoed among dozens of panels and discussion groups at the Islamic Society of North America’s annual meeting in suburban Chicago comes after a difficult year for American Muslims. Several states have passed or proposed bans of Islamic law, mosque construction projects have met ferocious opposition and polls have shown that many Americans have a negative perception of the religion.

Panels carried titles such as “Muslims Under a Microscope,” “Anti-Sharia Initiatives: How to Respond” and “Not in My Backyard,” regarding to anti-mosque construction campaigns. The sessions at ISNA, which were based upon the requests of members, indicated that Muslims are also concerned about the state of their religion as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

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Former President George W. Bush: “Islam is a noble faith”

Transcript of a speech by former President George W. Bush at the White House, 17th October 2005.

President Bush: Please be seated. Thank you. Welcome to the White House. This is the fifth year in a row that it’s been my honor to host an Iftaar in the State Dining Room.

Our distinguished guests represent the millions of Muslims that we’re proud to call Americans, and many Islamic nations are represented here that America is proud to call friend. We welcome the representatives from many countries with large Muslim populations. I want to thank you all for coming to celebrate an honored tradition of the Muslim faith, and wish you a “Ramadan Mubarak.”

I want to thank those in my administration who have joined us. I want to thank the Imam for joining us today, and thank you for leading us in prayer after these short remarks. I want to thank all the ambassadors from the Organization of the Islamic Conference. I welcome other members of the Diplomatic Corps. And I want to thank the Muslim — American Muslim leaders who are with us today. Thanks for taking time out to celebrate this important dinner.

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