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Muslim Americans in San Francisco Reflect on Sept. 11

First in an ongoing series on the impact of 9/11 on life in the United States, Spencer Michels talks with members of the American Muslim community in San Francisco.

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    Nearly five years after 9/11, members of the growing American Muslim community continue to wrestle with their place in modern American society.

    For most of them, three million to nine million, depending on who's counting, life is not the same as it was before.

    Hatem Bazian, a Jordanian-born Palestinian who teaches about Islam at the University of California at Berkeley, has studied the American Muslim population, especially in the San Francisco Bay area.

  • Of California, Berkeley:

    HATEM BAZIAN, University Since 9/11, I think the community is essentially under — feels under siege. They're in a constant state of what I consider to be virtual internment, in the sense that the community feels entrapped in its own mind.

    It's unable to fully be a full member of the American society. I consider it to be that they're Americans on probation. They're guilty, that they have to prove themselves innocent. They're guilty of having the same religion as those who undertaken the attacks of 9/11.


    Bazian says, he sees the arrest of Muslims in England for allegedly planning to blow up transatlantic airliners as adding to the siege mentality of Muslims in America.

    Politicians and the media, he said when we talked after the plot was revealed, unfairly paint all Muslims with the same brush.


    The Muslims are right now are the bogeyman that you need to be fearful of, because, if you look at the newspapers, almost every day, there is an image and a picture and a news item. I think, on a slow day, there's about 10 stories that is negative toward Muslims.

    There is this construct that the Muslim-American community, as a class, is deemed to be guilty, and has to prove itself innocent.