The Sept. 11 attacks on the United States by Muslim extremists had a curious consequence; Many Americans were introduced to Islam for the first time, and chose to convert to Islam.
Between 2000-2010, Muslims in the U.S. grew from an estimated 1 million to 2.6 million, a 67 percent increase, making it the fastest growing religion in the United States, according to the nongovernmental U.S. Religion Census.
By 2017, the number of Muslims in the U.S. was estimated at 3.45 million, according to Pew Research.
Despite this growth, Muslims in the United States only represented about 1 percent of the U.S. population in 2020, the Public Religion Research Institute has found. For comparison, Christians made up about 70% of the population, while 23% of Americans said they were unaffiliated with a religion or identified as atheist or agnostic.
While covering the U.S. election in 2020, CGTN interviewed Ohio activist and Democratic National Convention Delegate Cynthia Cox Ubaldo, who converted to Islam after Sept. 11.
Ubaldo said she was drawn to Islam as she researched the terrorist attack by Muslim extremists. As she learned more about the principles of the religion, she realized that it was the opposite of what the terrorists who participated in the Sept. 11 attacks believed.
After her conversion, Ubaldo faced several instances of discrimination, and even assault, for her beliefs and dress.
More than half of American adults surveyed by Pew Research in 2019 felt that Muslims were discriminated against a lot, and 82 percent said Muslims faced some discrimination.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, University of Kentucky Associate Professor Ihsan Bagby said the discrimination has only built up resilience among Muslims.
“You get stronger with resistance,” he told the Daily News. “I think the anti-Muslim atmosphere in certain segments of the public square have actually made Muslims more religious.”
Data Analyst for the U.S. Religion Census Dale Jones also told the Daily News that persecution was “sometimes good for a religious group” in getting more converts.
“Rarely is opposition a very effective tool in stopping the growth of a movement,” Jones said.