CAIRO - Fierce media campaigns targeting the Muslim community and their faith in the United States are prompting young Muslims to shy away from being associated with their religion.
Stuff they see in the media kind of tells them maybe that something is wrong with them, or that because they're Muslim they're somehow singled out, Omar Mahmood, an adviser for the Muslim Youth of North America, was quoted as saying by Arizona Public Media.
Mahmoud, a clinical psychologist, opines that some teens are afraid from being identified as Muslims over the campaigns targeting their religion.
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Many might feel that being a good Muslim or being a spiritual, religious Muslim is somehow contradictory to being a productive and contributing member of American society.
US Muslims, estimated at between six to seven million, have been sensing growing hostility in recent months.
Anti-Muslim sentiments sharply grew over plans to build a mosque near the 9/11 site in New York, resulting in attacks on Muslims and their property.
Worse still, hostile rhetoric by Republican candidates against Islamic Shari`ah has led to demonize the sizable minority.
According to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the University of California, Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey has also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.
Lawmakers in at least 20 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.
The psychologist believes that learning young Muslim teens about their faith would help them reconcile their identity conflicts.
"I think we need to kind of bridge that helps young Muslims understand that they need to learn more about their faith," Mahmoud said.
"But they also need to learn more about the American cultural context that they're in."
He thinks that teaching young Muslims about the richness of their spiritual tradition would tackle their growing pains.
"A lot of the struggles and psychological issues that are challenging for Muslim youth are the same and very similar challenges that any American youth might have," he said.
"Adolescence and young adulthood is a tumultuous time in development, for anyone."
Hostile campaigns have energized several Muslim groups to rally to clear misconceptions about their faith.
Earlier this year, Gain Peace, a Chicago-based Muslim outreach group, launched a public and television campaign to clear long-held misconceptions about Islam.The Islamic Circle of North America has also launched a campaign to educate Americans about Shari`ah and dispel wrong perceptions about it.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net