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The Muslim Americans

In the Film

Osamah Abdallah

Osamah Abdallah

Osamah Abdallah is a student at Loyola University of Chicago and the victim of a cyber hate crime.  A student at University of Massachusetts randomly found Abdallah on a popular web site and began sending him derogatory e-mails.  The Massachusetts student then reported Osamah to the National Security Agency alleging that he had plans to blow up the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago.  As with standard protocol, the NSA passed the information onto the FBI and the Chicago Police Department. Working together, the organizations oversaw the securing of the Sears Tower, and the FBI located Abdallah at Loyola University and campus security pulled him out of class. In the end, Abdallah was cleared and the student who began the false accusations pled not guilty at his arraignment in November, 2006 and was released on a $10,000 bond.  If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine for maliciously conveying false information. [Discrimination Segment]

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Farah & Sarah Albani

Farah & Sarah Albani

Farah & Sarah Albani were born and raised in Northern Virginia and balance the typical daily lives of American teenagers with the faith. A year after 9/11, at the age of 11, Sarah put aside her fears of being labeled a terrorist, and decided to begin wearing the traditional headscarf or hijab, a symbol of modesty for Muslim women. Her decision inspired her less observant mother, to join her and is emblematic of young Muslims who, post 9/11, are embracing their faith with renewed vigor and inspiring others to follow.  [Youth Segment]

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Saqib Ali

Saqib Ali

Saqib Ali is son of immigrant parents from India and Pakistan, Saqib Ali remembers having passionate political discussions around the family dinner table. Yet, he discovered that his parents rarely put their words and beliefs into action by voting. He set out to change their attitude, and to overcome a hesitancy he saw on the part of some Muslims to participate in politics after September 11th.  In 2004, he volunteered for Howard Dean’s primary campaign, and by 2006 he had decided to run for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates. He is now Maryland’s first elected Muslim official, representing Montgomery County. [Politics Segment]

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Miriam Amer

Miriam Amer

Miriam Amer directs the Muslim American Society’s Freedom Iowa chapter. In her capacity as chapter director, Amer educates the Muslim community – and particularly new immigrants – about the American political process. She teaches courses on civic engagement and advocacy and assists with voter registration drives. Amer also serves on the board of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union. Originally from New Hampshire, Amer now lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with her husband and two children. [Politics Segment]

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Bill Aossey

Bill Aossey

Bill Aossey and his family have been part of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa community since 1888, when his mother’s father immigrated to the United States from Lebanon and started work as a peddler. Aossey’s father, Yahya Aossey, also emigrated from Lebanon, working first as a farmhand and later peddling goods. In 1934, the Aosseys, along with other Muslim families in Cedar Rapids, built the Mother Mosque, the oldest existing mosque in the United States. After growing up in Cedar Rapids and attending Cornell College in nearby Mount Vernon, Bill Aossey volunteered for the Peace Corps, becoming the organization’s first Muslim participant. Aossey founded and serves as president of the MIDAMAR Corporation, an international distributor of USDA-certified Halal products. [Overview Segment]

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Karen DeYoung

Karen DeYoung

Karen DeYoung is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where she currently writes about terrorism issues for the National and Foreign Desks. Her February 8 article, “Distrust Hinders FBI In Outreach to MuslimsOff-site link,” highlighted the struggles law enforcement agencies have faced trying to connect to Muslim American communities. Prior to her current position, DeYoung served as assistant managing editor for national news for ten years and also as the Post’s  bureau chief in London and Latin America. [Overview Segment]

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Keith Ellison

Keith Ellison

Keith Ellison, an African American, became the first Muslim elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on November 7, 2006.  Ellison, a Democrat representing Minnesota’s 5th District, grew up in Detroit and traces his family’s presence in the United States back to 1742. Facing criticism from a fellow congressman and some in the media about his decision to be ceremonially sworn in on a Koran, Ellison showed keen political instincts by borrowing Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Koran from the Library of Congress for the event. [Politics Segment]

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Rob Grant

Rob Grant

Rob Grant was named by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to the position of Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office in late 2005.   As Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI's fourth largest field office in Chicago, Mr. Grant directs the investigative efforts of over 800 Special Agents and professional support employees, who are responsible for the enforcement of over 200 violations of federal criminal law within the Northern District of Illinois. Grant meets quarterly with Chicago area Mosque leaders and other Muslim groups to highlight concerns and create an understanding of common goals.  Grant began his career with the FBI as a Special Agent in 1983. [Discrimination Segment]

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Shadia Igram

Shadia Igram

Shadia Igram is a third generation Muslim American and the owner of Charlie’s Pizzeria in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The restaurant is named after Shadia’s grandfather, Kalil Hassan Ajram, who changed his name to Charles. When they first arrived in the United States, many Muslims in Cedar Rapids adopted Americanized names; for Shadia’s family, “Ajram” became “Igram,” even though the new name is not pronounceable in Arabic. As a result, Shadia switches between the two last names – when she is with Arabs, she often identifies herself as an “Arjam.” Otherwise, she’s Shadia Igram. Shadia also works part time at her parents’ company, Cedar Graphics. [Overview Segment]

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Robert MacNeil

Robert MacNeil

Robert MacNeil is a distinguished journalist and was co-anchor and executive editor of THE MACNEIL/LEHRER NEWSHOUR for 20 years until his retirement in 1995. MacNeil, with his colleague Jim Lehrer, remains a partner in MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, producer of THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER and specials including THE STORY OF ENGLISH and BY THE PEOPLE.  He is the author of, among other books, the novel Breaking News (1998), a memoir Looking for My Country, Finding Myself in America (2003) and Do You Speak American? (2005). [Politics Segment]

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Spencer Michels

Spencer Michels

Spencer Michels has been a contributing correspondent for THE NEWSHOUR since 1983.  He covers a wide range of stories from politics, high tech and education, to cultural affairs. Most of his work is centered in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was born. He is also seen on KQED, SAN FRANCISCO’S THIS WEEK. He previously hosted EXPRESS, a weekly news and current affairs program on KQED; was San Francisco bureau chief and reporter for KCRA Television News in Sacramento; and was a reporter and bureau chief for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. [Religion Segment]

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Hina Mukhtar

Hina Mukhtar

Hina Mukhtar and her husband Zeeshan are among a new generation of young American Muslims who have chosen to live as devout Muslims, balancing their faith with life in the affluent suburbs of San Francisco.  As second generation children of immigrants from Pakistan, they are quietly claiming their identity both as patriotic Americans and devout Muslims. [Religion Segment]

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Rami Nashashibi

Rami Nashashibi

Rami Nashashibi is a Palestinian-American who was raised in a secular Muslim home.  The 33-year reconnected with Islam while attending Chicago’s DePaul University.  Expanding the Islamic values of brotherhood, service, charity and faith to include all in need --- he co-founded IMAN, The Inner City Muslim Action Network in 1995.  IMAN addresses social problems facing disenfranchised residents of Chicago’s southwest community by building alliances across religious and ethnic boundaries. [Youth Segment] Learn more about IMANOff-site link

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Akif Rahman

Akif Rahman

Akif Rahman is a United States citizen, born in Springfield, Illinois.  After graduating from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Akif founded a computer-consulting firm that he continues to operate.  The firm has employees in the United States as well as in Pakistan and India.  Akif lives in Wheaton, Illinois with his wife and their two children. Since 2004, Mr. Rahman has been detained upon entering the United States six times. The result of misidentification.  Despite a freedom of information act inquiry and a lawsuit filed through American Civil Liberties Union of Chicago, the problem has not been resolved. [Discrimination Segment]

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Fred de Sam Lazaro

Fred de Sam Lazaro

Fred de Sam Lazaro has been a correspondent with THE NEWSHOUR since 1985 and a Special NewsHour correspondent since 2006, he was formerly based in the Minneapolis St Paul PBS affiliate TPT.  At TPT, he served as an executive producer for local documentaries, including the highly-acclaimed DEATH OF THE DREAM: FARM HOUSES IN THE HEARTLAND, SETH EASTMAN: PAINTING THE DAKOTA and MADE IN CHINA. He served THE NEWSHOUR as medical correspondent in the mid nineties, covering the debate over the Clinton Health Reform proposals. Today, his reports range widely: from the global AIDS pandemic to issues in the upper Midwest region. He recently returned from the remote Chad-Sudan border region where he led the first American television crew to report on the deepening refugee crisis there. [Discrimination Segment]

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Ray Suarez

Ray Suarez

Ray Suarez is a senior correspondent that joined THE NEWSHOUR in October 1999.  Suarez has thirty years of varied experience in the news business. He came to THE NEWSHOUR from National Public Radio where he had been host of the nationwide, call-in news program TALK OF THE NATION since 1993. Prior to that, he spent seven years covering local, national, and international stories for the NBC-owned station, WMAQ-TV in Chicago as a Washington-based Senior Correspondent.  His published works include the book The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration (Free Press), and The Holy Vote, an examination of the tightening relationship between religion and politics in America. [Overview Segment]

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Dan Sutherland

Dan Sutherland

Dan Sutherland was appointed by President Bush to head the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2003. In this position, Sutherland provides advice to the DHS Secretary and the senior officers of the Department on a full range of civil rights and civil liberties issues. Sutherland has been a civil rights attorney throughout his legal career, serving fourteen years with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and nearly two years with the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. He has co-authored Religion in the Workplace, a book published in 1998 by the American Bar Association, and he has served at the White House, with the Domestic Policy Council, and at the Bush-Cheney Transition headquarters. Sutherland has handled a number of important civil rights lawsuits. His experience has been primarily in the areas of discrimination against immigrants and discrimination against people with disabilities.   He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and the University of Louisville. [Discrimination Segment]  More about Sutherland and his workOff-site link

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Judy Woodruff

Judy Woodruff

Judy Woodruff, a broadcast journalist, has covered politics and other news for more than three decades at CNN, PBS and NBC. Woodruff left CNN full-time in June 2005 to pursue longer-form journalism opportunities, but will remain a consultant and occasional contributor to CNN. Through 2006, she worked with PBS to develop a project, GENERATION NEXT:  SPEAK UP. BE HEARD that consisted of interviews with American young people and a series of reports to the nation on their views. In the 2005 fall semester, Woodruff was a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, where she led a study group for students on contemporary issues in journalism. [Youth Segment]

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Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
A convert to Islam who studied for a decade with renowned Muslim scholars in Africa and the Middle East, Hamza Yusuf is today recognized as one the foremost modern interpreters of the sacred texts.  He founded the Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, California, a teaching center whose programs appeal to Muslims around the country who want to learn about their faith from an American perspective.  As one of the most outspoken Muslim leaders to condemn the 9-11 attacks, Yusuf was the only imam who met at the White House with President Bush and other religion leaders later that September. [Religion Segment] More about the Zaytuna InstituteOff-site link

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