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Obama's speech inspires Muslims in Los Angeles & around U.S.

June 4, 2009 |  2:58 pm

In Los Angeles, Salam Al-Marayati beamed as he watched President Obama enumerate Muslim contributions to civilization and the United States.

In Dearborn, Mich., home to the nation’s largest Arab American community, leaders quietly hoped that Obama’s speech in Cairo would usher in a new era in American attitudes toward them.

And in Washington, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations praised Obama for repeatedly quoting the Koran and acknowledging damaging stereotypes of Muslims.

Even as Obama’s speech today reverberated through the Muslim world, back home it offered inspiration to U.S. Muslims seeking a new image for their community -- one they said had been eclipsed by the rhetoric of religious extremism in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

“I came away feeling confident that this president does take seriously his role in opposing stereotypes of Islam,” said Al-Marayati, head of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, who rose at 3 a.m. to watch the speech on television in his living room. “He will be a major source for all of us as one who debunks the myths about Islam and Muslims to the American public.”

Read full story here.

-- Duke Helfand in Los Angeles and P.J. Huffstutter in Fort Wayne, Ind.