Muslims in America: In their own words

Muslims in America are facing waves of anti-Islamic sentiment ranging from political rhetoric to sometimes verbal and physical violence. The Council on American-Islamic Relations stated last month that they had received more reports of crimes against Muslims and Islamic institutions across the United States at the end of November than any other period since 9/11.

CBS News spoke with Muslims from different ethnic backgrounds about what it's like living as a Muslim in the United States today. Each person spoke about the tensions and uncertainty that many of them and their fellow Muslims are living through.

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Maysoon Zayid
Heba Kanso

Maysoon Zayid

Palestinian Muslim -- Comedian and writer

"I am a Muslim woman who by the way has performed in Muslim countries uncovered and uncensored and I have never in my life been threatened from someone who identifies as a fellow Muslim, but I get threats day and night on the Internet from people who do identify as my fellow Americans. ...

"We do believe in Jesus. I often have Twitter trolls tell me 'Maysoon you need to accept Jesus,' and I say, 'I do accept Jesus he is actually a prophet in Islam. Now can you accept that he looks more like me than Jared Leto.'"

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Imam Khalid Latif
Heba Kanso


Imam Khalid Latif

Pakistani Muslim -- New York City police chaplain, Executive Director of New York University Islamic Center, and N.Y.U University chaplain
"The reality is that many of the narratives that we might consciously or unconsciously make decisions by are those that are pretty antagonistic. They teach us to not really understand the other, but to always be cautious of the other. ...
"Just like you don't have to be of any specific group to stand for that group, you don't have to be Muslim to stand-up for Muslims. And when we find and recognize that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us we will start to see a categorical change in difference in a way that this society functions."
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Mikel Aki'lah
Heba Kanso

Mikel Aki'lah

African-American Muslim -- High school student in Brooklyn

"I am Muslim and my experience and my existence in this whole mess of Islamophobia is valid. ...

"Sometimes I just feel really paranoid and angry and upset. It sucks because I can't get through a day without this looming over my head - that somebody could do or say something to me."

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John Halliwell
Heba Kanso

John Halliwell

White Muslim -- Ph.D Student at Columbia University

"I feel that as somebody who has a dual identity both as a privileged white American, who goes to an Ivy League school and comes from privileged background, but also as a Muslim who is connected to the community, I feel that I have a job to speak to my constituents. ...

"It's easy for me to get up and say we need to have coexistence and we need to love each other, but there is very real tensions that exist."

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Angie Hamouie
Heba Kanso

Angie Hamouie

Syrian, German and Turkish Muslim -- Graduate Student of Medicine and Public Health at Columbia University

"Because people don't immediately recognize me as a Muslim I have not had to face the same hardships that some of my Muslim friends have experienced. ...

"Being Muslim in the United States today is very frustrating because everywhere you look in the media you see your religion painted in a way that you've never understood it to be. ...

"When I see non-Muslims reaching out to Muslims either through their Facebook status, or through Twitter or any social media outlet, or even in-person, just reaching out and saying 'Hey not everyone feels this way about Muslims.' Or 'We know that your religion does not teach violence,' or just saying that 'We understand that it's hard for you right now and we are here to support you,' - that's incredibly inspirational."

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Ibrahim Taveras
Heba Kanso

Ibrahim Taveras

Puerto Rican and Dominican Muslim -- Software tester

"When we do greetings with our brothers and sisters we say 'assalamu alaikum' -- meaning 'may peace be upon you.' And essentially that's what we really believe. We really believe and wish peace on not only our brothers and sisters, but also in humanity. ...

"Times are crazy for sure. The first time I accepted Islam until now obviously ... a lot has changed since then. And to a certain degree it is a feeling of uncertainty."