Professor Esposito presented many facts about the social make-up of American Muslims today; There are as many as 6 - 8 million Muslims living in the United States and contributing to society as doctors, engineers, artists, writers and professionals. Polls have shown that American Muslims are educationally, economically and politically integrated in American society in numbers above the average American. However, for decades many have found themselves and their religion wrongly equated with the acts of terrorists like Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, etc. Many have been the victims of fear, suspicion, prejudice, unlawful surveillance, illegal search, arrest and imprisonment. Ultimately, this has unfortunately led to anti-Islam and anti-Muslim bias (Islamophobia) that worsens due to actions of a few extremists and their portrayal in current events. Despite the fact that Muslims have had to explain that neither they nor their religion sanction terrorism or violent acts, many are still viewed in a negative light because of extremist groups who use the religion of Islam as a means of justification of their acts.
The speaker made a point to mention that since there is no clear understanding of Islam by the general public, this has led to a negative view of Islam. This, along with historic events such as the Iranian hostage crisis, Bosnian genocide, or current events such as the terror group ISIS and the way these events are portrayed by the media, has led to many people not being able to distinguish the religion of Islam from the acts of violence displayed by a small majority of extremists who claim to be Muslim. While most Americans can identify extremists in other religions such the hateful Westboro Baptist Church, the same idea is not made by many Americans with the majority of Muslims and the small majority of extremists claiming to be Muslim.
Professor Esposito also spoke of current efforts taking place in New