How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?


Moustafa Bayoumi

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How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Terms

Advocates for Children

A public interest legal organization in New York that fights for equality in the public education system (especially for low-income and immigrant groups), largely through pro bono work. read analysis of Advocates for Children


The Arabic word for “God,” which is frequently associated with Islam but also commonly used by a variety of non-Muslim groups as well. read analysis of Allah

Al Jazeera

A major global media network owned by the government of Qatar (a small, wealthy, highly developed country on the Arabian Peninsula), which is often controversial in the West for presenting multiple competing viewpoints about Middle… read analysis of Al Jazeera


A terrorist network of extremist Muslim fundamentalists founded by Osama bin Laden in the 1980s, which has carried out a number of suicide attacks, including the September 11 attacks, against the citizens of countries it… read analysis of Al-Qaeda

Bay Ridge

A middle-class neighborhood in Southwest Brooklyn where several of Bayoumi’s subjects live. Historically dominated by Greek, Norwegian, Irish, and Italian immigrant communities, Bay Ridge has become the epicenter of Arab American life in New… read analysis of Bay Ridge
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A civil rights and legal advocacy organization that pursues equality for and fights discrimination against Muslim Americans. read analysis of CAIR


Spreading Islam through preaching and missionary work. Rami and Mohammad suggest that, in the United States, da‘wa is as much about showing non-Muslims a positive image of Islam as about winning converts to Islam and… read analysis of Da‘wa

Fahrenheit 9/11

A polemical political documentary by the progressive activist Michael Moore, which explored the War on Terror and Iraq War, pointing out the bias of mass media and the American government’s connections to the organizations… read analysis of Fahrenheit 9/11


The American Federal Bureau of Investigation, the nation’s main domestic surveillance, security, and counter-terrorism agency. Despite its noble aims, the FBI has been responsible for numerous human rights violations since its creation in 1908, including… read analysis of FBI


One of the two primary Palestinian political parties, an Islamist group that favors armed rebellion to the Israeli occupation. In contrast, Hamas’s main opponent, Fatah, is secular and rejects violent resistance to Israel. Fatah primarily… read analysis of Hamas


A Muslim religious leader, especially one who leads services at a mosque. read analysis of Imam


The Immigration and Naturalization Service was an agency responsible for processing legal immigration and preventing illegal immigration to the United States. In March 2003, it was dissolved and became three separate agencies: Customs and Border… read analysis of INS

Iraq War

The conflict between an American-led coalition and the Iraqi government led by Saddam Hussein, which was quickly deposed in 2003, and then between the same coalition and Iraqi insurgent groups that flourished in the… read analysis of Iraq War

Keffiyah (Hatta)

A kind of traditional scarf generally worn around the head in the Middle East. The black-and-white Palestinian variety has become a common symbol of protest against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. read analysis of Keffiyah (Hatta)


The birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, an ancient city in present-day Saudi Arabia that remains Islam’s holiest site. Millions of Muslims come to Mecca each year, mostly for the annual pilgrimage (the Hajj). read analysis of Mecca

The No-Fly List

A list of tens of thousands of people who are considered terror threats and accordingly banned from all commercial flights in the United States. In practice, tens of thousands of people (including small children) have… read analysis of The No-Fly List

Pro Bono

Legal work performed for free, short for pro bono publico (“for the public good”). read analysis of Pro Bono


The primary religious scripture in Islam and the most important text in Arabic literature, which God reportedly revealed to the Prophet Muhammad piece by piece over his last 23 years of life. Muslim religious services… read analysis of Qur’an


A city in the West Bank that effectively serves as the Palestinian Authority’s capital (since Israel controls Jerusalem, the official capital of Palestine). read analysis of Ramallah

Saddam Hussein

The authoritarian president of Iraq from 1979 until 2003, when he was deposed by the invading American-led coalition in the Iraq War. read analysis of Saddam Hussein

September 11

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the fundamentalist terrorist organization al-Qaeda hijacked four American planes and flew two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan’s financial district, one into… read analysis of September 11


Tobacco smoked through a large water pipe (a hookah), a common social activity in the Arab world and among Arab immigrant communities in places like Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. read analysis of Shisha

War on Terror

A term that loosely refers to the ongoing series of American-led military campaigns in the Middle East and anti-terror efforts in the West that started after the September 11 attacks. read analysis of War on Terror

W.E.B. Du Bois

An acclaimed African-American sociologist and civil rights activist who fought for racial equality in the early 20th century. He remains best known for the classic study The Souls of Black Folk (1903), which he opened… read analysis of W.E.B. Du Bois

West Bank

The larger of the two Israeli-occupied territories that comprise the State of Palestine. (The other is the small, densely-populated Gaza Strip, and the two territories are separated by Israel.) read analysis of West Bank

Yasser Arafat

The longtime leader of Fatah, one of Palestine’s two primary political parties (along with Hamas), and president of the Palestinian Authority from 1994 until his death in 2004. read analysis of Yasser Arafat