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Race and Religion in the Political Problematization of the American Muslim

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 October 2011

Iqbal Akhtar
New College at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland
E-mail address:


This article examines how the American civil response to September 11 profoundly transformed the core of American Muslim political identity for a generation. I outline the evolving contours of the American Muslim as citizens after September 11 through an analysis of the impact of race and religion on two relationships: state to citizen and citizen to citizen. The American political response to September 11 had both positive and negative impacts for domiciled Muslims. At the national level, this event has forced American Muslims into a period of institution building and active citizenship while the federal government's response has problematized the Muslim as a continuous potential security threat. One simmering question for the American citizenry in general concerns the loyalty of the American Muslim. In the future, the American Muslim political class will be engaged in a continued effort to write Muslims into the American narrative in the same way that previous immigrant groups have fought to reappropriate “Americanness.” The larger philosophical question in this process is how, in doing so, this group can prove its loyalty to the nation while maintaining a distinctive religious culture and heritage. What will be the future core of the maturing American Muslim as both a citizen of the republic and a servant of his or her god?

Copyright © American Political Science Association 2011

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