For many Muslim Americans, fitting in can be a struggle

Source: Boston Globe

By Jennette Barnes

One in a series of occasional articles about Muslims in our suburbs.

Mary Lahaj was a high school cheerleader in 1964 when the first mosque in New England opened just outside Boston, in Quincy.

It was a different time. In those days, her friends hardly knew what a Muslim was.

The mosque’s eight founding families, including three generations of hers, had roots in Lebanon. Its opening felt like immigrants making good, she said: Building a house of worship was synonymous with being American.

More than 50 years later, things have changed — but not in the way those families must have anticipated. Although they strive and raise children like their neighbors, Muslim Americans live in the long shadow of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, carried out in the name of Islam.

The magnitude of the attack and resulting military operations have taken something from every American — from our military and their families, including some who are Muslim; from people who view their neighbors and their world differently; and from people who have experienced anti-Muslim harassment or violence, or felt the cold shoulder of suspicion.

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