[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/01/29/syed.obama/art.syed.jpg caption="Nafees Syed, a Muslim college student, says President Obama's early words and actions send a powerful, positive signal to Muslims."]
Many things were lost on 9/11 – three thousand lives, a nation's innocence and the fiction within the American Muslim community that it could live in this country without having to tell the broader society much about its traditions (the African-American Muslim community is an important exception to this).
After getting over the shock of the sheer horror of 9/11, after mourning the victims of the attacks, American Muslims realized that Osama bin Laden had just taught Americans his version of Islam 101. And because Americans were largely ignorant of this 1400-year-old faith of over a billion people, many believed it. 9/11 taught American Muslims a crucial lesson: if there is a vacuum out there about something important, and you don't fill it, someone else will.
To their credit, Muslims in America and elsewhere have been very busy since 9/11, as an important new report from the United States Institute of Peace highlights. It states, "Violent extremists are on one edge of the Muslim community, but they are counterbalanced by a growing movement of Muslim peacemakers."
The paper first and foremost debunks the falsehood that Muslim leaders have not spoken out against terrorism, pointing out that 13 American Muslim organizations issued a statement immediately after 9/11 that said: "Holding to the ideals of both our religion and our country, we condemn all forms of terrorism, and confirm the need for perpetrators of any such acts of violence to be brought to justice." It lists several other such statements from Muslim organizations around the world.
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