freeSpeech: Ahmed Younis

I was recently in the desert of Central Asia on a trek through old Soviet territory when an 80-year-old Imam asked me whether Muslims in America are feeling the backlash of 9/11.

I realized again at that moment, as I had on other trips, that the story of the American Muslim is a core element of our winning hearts and minds in the international war on terror. Muslims around the world look at how we American Muslims are doing and make judgments about our country. Their biggest question: "Can Muslims thrive in a western society? Can Muslims thrive in the United States of America?"

The answer is yes.

And we can help win this international war on terror if you include us in the fight. What many Americans might not realize is that the Muslim community already has effective partnerships with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that terrorists don't harm our nation again. That kind of cooperation will not only help Muslims fit into America, but also send the message to Muslims overseas that America is a place where Islam can be practiced freely. And that in itself is a major victory in the war on terror.

As an American Muslim, I am committed to the values of reason, mercy, justice, equality and humanity. Those are American values. They are also Qur'anic values.

I am a Muslim, but I am also an American and a patriot.

Ahmed Younis is national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, D.C. Before joining MPAC, he interned at the Office of the Legal Counsel of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations and was assigned to the Office of the Special Advisor to the Secretary General on Iraq. Younis has studied extensively in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and is the author of American Muslims: Voir Dire (Speak the Truth), a post-September 11 look into the reality of debate surrounding American Muslims and their country, a publication that has gained popularity in cities in the Muslim world since its translation into Arabic.