Growing up a Muslim in the United States

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Pew Research estimates that there are between three and four million Muslim Americans living in the United States. These are our neighbors, friends, family, colleagues, classmates, and more. Yet Islam is still one of the most misunderstood religions. Following devastating events such as 9/11, identity navigation has become difficult for young American Muslims who have seen their religion portrayed antagonistically in the media and in society.

Some explained that they would hide their backgrounds from their peers at school, at work and in their community to minimize the risk of discrimination, hatred and harassment. Others said they would refrain from engaging in religious practices, such as fasting during Ramadan or wearing clothing or accessories in public identifying them as Muslims to avoid flippant comments, such as being treated as a “terrorist”.

These types of experiences can be isolated and confrontational for young American Muslims, who navigate alone and struggle to internalize that they are victims of prejudice. It can be even more intense for those who live in a community where there are not many other people who practice the same religion.

Satin Tashnizi, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Project Emerald and Ali-Abbas Sial, Ambassador of Project Emerald and Lead Organizer of the Muslim Youth Conference joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. They explored some of the challenges faced by Muslim Americans, especially in their youth as they explore, navigate and embrace their identities and explain what their organization is doing to help them.

Tashnizi and Sial shared what constitutes their own individual identity, how “Exploring Muslim Identity” has become one of the five goals of their organization, what identity means to them and why it is so important, what are the events that shaped their identity, whether parts of their identity are determined by themselves or by society, how identity browsing impacted their experience at Emerald Project and what they would like to know about their identity when they grow up.

Emerald Project will host Utah’s first annual Muslim Youth Conference to help attendees explore, internalize, and share these experiences. It will take place on March 29, 2022 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University of Utah. The event is open to American Muslim high school and college students. Registration is free and interested participants can register here.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Tashnizi and Sial, click on the video at the top of the article.

Watch IN FOCUS chats with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on weeknights on CW30 News at 7 p.m..

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning reporter who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as a presenter of CW30 News at 7pm. Although no longer in the field, she pursues her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

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