01 March 2009

Muslims (finally) part of the American family

This will probably come as no surprise, but my favourite part about Obama's inauguration speech was the line "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers." Something like this would have been nice during the campaign, coming from Obama himself, and not just Colin Powell (although I certainly admire Powell for what he said). Now, though, Obama has righted a significant campaign wrong. The word "Muslim" is thus no longer a "smear"; it is part of what the US is.

My second favourite line was, "To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect." And as part of the launch of this "new way forward", in his interview to Al Arabiya, Obama said "America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians, non-believers", moving the Muslims into first place. This is not to say that the Muslims must have precedence in lists; rather, my point is obviously that delegitimising the Americanness of Muslim Americans has just got a lot harder.

It's certainly too early to say that American Muslims have "arrived", but it's a good start. It makes me happy for my American Muslim wife, but also for Muslims in the West in general, as well as for the US, which, it seems, is indeed on its way to building a "more perfect union".

[This is my 300th post on Notes on Religion.]

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