Muslims

Hana Baba

About 20 Muslim families are gathered on a hilltop outside the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, just after sunset. A water fountain bubbles, women and men chat, kids run around with snacks in their hands, and everyone at some point or another, looks up to the sky. They are moonsighting, scanning the sky for the new crescent moon that will signify the beginning of the month, Ramadan. 

The Bay Area Muslim community includes at least 100, 000 people. There's a large Afghan community in the East Bay, a sizable South Asian population in the South Bay, and the Peninsula is home to large Arab American and Iranian American groups.

Historically, the Muslim community has voted Republican – until 2008 when they voted for President Obama. However, many say they are now disappointed by his presidency, especially in terms of issues like closing Guantanamo Bay, renewing the Patriot Act, and the continuing drone attacks in Pakistan.

Since 9/11, surveillance of Muslims has been on the rise. New York City made national news in February when the Associated Press broke the story about the NYPD spying on area mosques. AP won a Pullitzer Prize for that reporting.

About a month later, in March, we received similar news much closer to home. The ACLU announced it had documents showing the FBI spied on mosques here in the San Francisco Bay Area between 2004 and 2008.