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That brings the total since 9/11 to 225 lives lost due to Muslim-American terrorism, or fewer than 20 per year.
Meanwhile, the United States must grapple with some very ugly truths. In 2013 alone, we witnessed 14,000 murders, according to the FBI. Since 9/11, America has seen more than 190,000 murders, “a shocking level of violence,” Kurzman said.
Yet, he sees what Safi sees. He calls it “a connect-the-dots phenomenon,” which is a preference by many Americans to ignore looking in the mirror and focus instead on violence among followers of Islam “that fits a certain narrative and plays into our fears, although it’s rare and concentrated.”
Safi’s research was fully supported by the McNair Scholars Program, a federal program for low-income and underrepresented students that encourages the best and brightest to conduct research with a faculty member.
She dedicated 400 hours over the summer of 2013 to her content analysis, with Pike serving as her research mentor, and has presented her findings in California and at the Minnesota State Capitol Private College Scholars event in early April.
She hopes that her research will spark a willingness among Minnesotans to learn more “about what Islam teaches and what it doesn’t,” and when violence occurs, to not assume that religion is the reason.
Nervous at first to delve into this sensitive topic, Safi said she’s built lasting bridges with fellow students at Augsburg. “Now there’s a lot more seeds on campus to understand what Islam is, to have people from different identities interact and connect.
“Even if I meet resistance, I have enough faith and support to keep going.”
Follow Gail on Twitter: @grosenblum