Putting American Mosque Controversies in Perspective

September 30, 2011

In the latest addition to RSF's 9/11 forum, Katherine Pratt Ewing examines the controversy surrounding the construction of mosques in the United States. Despite the dispute over the proposed 'Ground Zero' mosque, Ewing argues, Muslims in America have generally been successful in establishing ties with local communities and allaying any concerns:

Since the early 1980s, there has been a steady increase in the number of mosques in the U.S. Of the more than 1200 mosques that existed in 2000, nearly two-thirds had been established since 1980. In the decade since 9/11, at least 700 additional mosques have been established, twice as many as in the previous decade. Yet as recently as a decade ago, there were very few mosques that actually looked like mosques, and so Muslim places of worship went unnoticed by the general public. By the late 1990s, for example, New York had more than 100 mosques, only a handful of which had been built for this purpose, often by communities that began praying together in a warehouse or storefront. Only in the years since 9/11 has there been a significant rise in the construction of purpose-built mosques in the US.

Read the rest of Ewing's essay here. For a full account of how the events of September 11 affected the quest for identity among Muslims in America, buy a copy of Ewing's RSF volume, Being and Belonging: Muslims in the United States since 9/11.

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