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Just how influential is the Islamic community in America? Since September 1999, Muslims have conducted Friday congregational prayers inside the U.S. Capitol building. American Muslim opposition to a Burger King restaurant opened in the West Bank in Israel caused the corporation to close it down. The United States military has tripled the number of Muslim chaplains in its ranks (serving more than 4,000 Muslim members of the military). Amazon.com changed a video review (of the movie Not without My Daughter) in response to Muslim complaints.6 In 1999 Georgetown University began a three-year project “to document the impact of Muslim Americans on the American horizon.”7
Islamic Horizons, one of the most influential Muslim journals in America with a distribution of more than 60,000,8 asserted in the article “Why Muslim Americans Need to Vote” that “Muslim Americans have power and its accompanying responsibility. We represent $75 billion of collective annual income, more than any Muslim country can produce.”9 This same issue relates how Muslim American complaints about a CNN online posting referring to Jerusalem as “the capital of Israel” prompted CNN to make appropriate changes quickly.10
The growing presence of Muslim Americans has not been lost on politicians either. For example, in New Jersey (home to an estimated 400,000 Muslims), former Governor Christine Todd Whitman signed a bill making New Jersey “the first state to enact a law ensuring the authenticity of Halal food.”11 Two Muslim Americans made history by delivering the benedictions on the first day of both the Democratic and Republican national conventions this past year.12 Also in 2000, Congress called on the United States Postal Service to issue a postal stamp commemorating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.