A new 11-part PBS series, "America at a Crossroads," premiered over the weekend. The NewsHour provides an excerpt of an upcoming episode that looks at what life is like for young Muslims in America.
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The sound is distinctly American, but at this Chicago street fair, it's purpose is not merely to entertain.
RAMI NASHASHIBI, IMAN Executive Director:
A very important segment of our work in our community is our young people.
Our challenge is very distinct from what may be emerging or what has emerged on some level in Europe. And I think — I don't think young Muslims growing up in America are going to have to grapple with sleeper cells. I don't think they're going to have to grapple with recruitment into terrorist camps.
I think that is, for the most part, a fiction of, you know, FOX's "24" and other series, and doesn't reflect the real, lived experiences of 99 percent of the young Muslims growing up in America.
A Palestinian American raised in a secular Muslim home, 33-year-old Rami Nashashibi mixes pop culture and Islam to inspire and unite young immigrant and indigenous Muslims with people of other faiths.
Islam became something that I engaged much later in my life. And I was a very die-hard agnostic skeptic, and I spent a great deal of time reading the Koran purely to debate the Koran and debate Muslims who I found very small-minded.
While attending Chicago's DePaul University, Rami reconnected with Islam. And 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. Its goal: to address social problems facing disenfranchised residents of Chicago's southwest community, by forging alliances across religious and ethnic boundaries.
Along with its organizational work, IMAN provides computer training and other career development services in both Spanish and English and an opportunity for expression at its bimonthly community cafe.
AMINAH MCCLOUD, Professor of Islamic Studies, DePaul University: They bring everything Islam is about, the thing that many of us transitioned into Islam for. Everybody feels free to come in and out of here, Muslim and non, male and female.
There are Latinos in here; there are black folk in here; there are white folks in here; there are Arabs; and there are South Asians. I mean, that's the face of Islam in America.