On a hot summer day, I walked into a makeshift mosque in Harlem’s Upper East Side, with a crowd of people, mostly young men in traditional clothing and wearing a hijab.
They were chanting “Allah Akbar!”
— the Islamic call to prayer — and waving a rainbow flag, which they had brought from Canada.
The rainbow flag has become a symbol of tolerance, tolerance, and acceptance in the United States.
This year, it has also been a symbol for the many people who have been killed in America’s gun violence crisis, many of them Muslim.
But as the Islamic community has grown in the U.S., so has the need for more visible signs of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment.
The mosque I visited was a microcosm of the way Islamophobia is pervasive in the West.
The vast majority of Muslims in America do not see themselves as the victims of a racist or Islamophobic culture.
When you look at Islam in America, you see it as a way of life, says the mosque’s imam, Abdullahi al-Saleh.
“It’s not about racism.
It’s about respect.”
The mosque has a huge following among young men, with most of them coming from Brooklyn or Queens.
Most of the men were from poor backgrounds, and a large majority of them were from Yemen, Somalia, or Ethiopia.
The majority were Muslim and the mosque was not the only place where they came together to pray.
The Imam said that the majority of the people he sees in the mosque are Muslim.
It was a Muslim congregation, with Muslims from all over the world, from countries like Iran and Iraq.
“We have so many people from all walks of life,” he said.
“This is the Muslim community in America.”
He spoke to a small group of men who were sitting at a table in the corner of the mosque.
“The only problem we have with Islam is that we’re so divided,” he told them.
“That’s why we pray in the street.
That’s why, when we pray, we talk to the people outside.
That is the problem.”
The imam said that he was especially concerned about what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the white supremacists gathered in the city to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The imami said that there is a growing sentiment among the Muslim communities of America that “it’s time for all Muslims to unite against the racism and bigotry.”
A few months ago, a man who called himself an Islamic extremist called to a mosque in Texas, saying he had “taken up arms” to protect Islam.
He told the imam that he had traveled to Iraq and Syria, where he fought alongside “soldiers of Allah.”
He said that “the time has come” for Muslims to fight the West, saying that he believed that he would be able to do it “within my lifetime.”
The Imam responded by saying that if there was one thing that had been written about the United Kingdom, it was “Muslims are not equal” and that “they’re not equal to the other religions.”
He then said that it was time for Muslims around the world to take up arms and “make a difference.”
The Muslim community has struggled to reach out to Muslims in the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy, and its lack of visibility and involvement in the response has made the issue a hot-button topic for many.
But there are other groups that are pushing back against the Islamophobia narrative in America.
The Islamic Center of the Greater New York City is one of those groups.
Its executive director, Mohammed Ibrahim, has been outspoken about the issue, and he is a frequent critic of Islamophobic statements and actions.
“I think it’s time to address the narrative of Islam as a threat to Western society,” he says.
“Our society has not seen any Islamic threat in the past century.
It has been the exception, not the rule.
And that’s why people need to stop and think.”
Ibrahim said that Muslims in his city “are not terrorists, they’re peaceful, they love their religion and they believe in their faith.”
“They are part of this community, we are part to them, and we need to come together and address the underlying issues that are fueling this kind of hatred and extremism.”
He added that the only way to fight this kind, he believes, is to build “a world where people love each other and where there is mutual respect and that everyone is treated with dignity.”
I am proud of what I am doing, Ibrahim said, “and I feel very proud of the leadership that I’m leading.”
He was referring to the Muslim American Association of New York, which Ibrahim heads.
Ibrahim is the executive director of the Islamic Center’s chapter in New York and its largest affiliate in New Jersey.
The Muslim American Society, the largest Muslim advocacy organization in the country, also has chapters in New England.
Ibrahim was the keynote speaker at the Islamic American Coalition conference in Boston, where