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After September 11, many Americans asked whether Muslims living here at home were susceptible to the same extremist ideologies that had fueled the 9/11 hijackers. Or to put the question more starkly, would young Muslims here turn against America and toward Al Qaeda's brand of murderous nihilism? Nothing like that has happened. There have been a few, unsuccessful homegrown plots. But America has not proved fertile ground for Islamic radicalism. In fact, Muslims here are more integrated, affluent and politically engaged than anywhere else in the West. They have, in short, bought into the American Dream.
Of course, that is not the whole story. Many Muslim Americans were subjected to heavy-handed scrutiny after 9/11. Throughout the country there are significant pockets of discontent that, if left to fester, could lead to deeper alienation and radicalism. But still, compared with countries like France and Britain, where many Muslims live in ethnic ghettos and lead lives isolated from the wider society, America's Muslims are thriving.
Why that is—and the opportunities and challenges that face these vibrant and hugely diverse communities linked by a common religion—is the subject of our cover story this week. Religion Editor Lisa Miller and a team of NEWSWEEK reporters trace how U.S. Muslims are forging a uniquely American brand of Islam—embracing many new traditions while remaining faithful to those of their religion. In Silicon Valley, Karen Breslau found CEOs, scientists, lawyers and social activists who are deeply rooted in their American lives and who say they are practicing a "purer Islam" here because so many different nationalities worship together. At the same time, Sanhita Sen reports that some of the American-born children of Muslim immigrants feel caught between worlds. While they grow up with a sense of entitlement as Americans, they believe they are not accepted as Americans by non-Muslims, and many are turning inward.
Elsewhere in the cover package, which was edited by Nisid Hajari, Middle East Regional Editor Christopher Dickey investigates how radical imams are using the Internet to recruit new jihadists and how we risk losing the cyberwar of ideas. And a U.S. imam and his wife argue that America, because of its diversity, is the most likely place for a renaissance in Islamic thought. Director of Photography Simon Barnett and Director of Covers Bruce Ramsay sought to capture that remarkable variety with the striking group portrait that is our cover image this week.
In conjunction with our Special Report on Islam in America, On Faith, a joint Washingtonpost.com and NEWSWEEK.com blog, is hosting "Muslims Speak Out" this week, a first-of-its-kind online dialogue to explore Islam and its intersection with culture and politics. NEWSWEEK Editor Jon Meacham and The Washington Post's Sally Quinn will moderate a discussion among 20 of the world's leading Islamic scholars and thinkers. They will address tough questions: What would you tell suicide bombers who invoke Islam to justify their actions? What are the rights of women in Islam? Is it permissible for a Muslim to convert to another faith? We hope you log on early and often, and participate by posting your own comments in order to address some of the most pressing questions of our age.
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