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Muslim Matters

Written by Cara J. Hayden

In the United States, when women wearing headscarves push carts through grocery stores, or raise their hands to ask questions in business classes, or show up at the White House for meetings, other people are sometimes curious about them. Onlookers may wonder why they choose to wear head scarves, or how they view the world differently as Muslim women.

One such woman, Pitt alumnus Dalia Mogahed (KGSB ’04), knows a few facts about how Muslims view the world. Actually, she knows what a majority of Muslims think about lots of things. Mogahed, an Egyptian-American, is a senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, a division of Gallup, which conducts research on human nature and behavior. In her position, she has led an unprecedented study that represents the views of more than a billion Muslims worldwide.

The scientific data, she says, are important tools to demonstrate to Western policymakers that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists like those who committed the 9/11 crimes. Her results have shown that most Muslims, like many other people around the world, simply dream of pursuing a decent life, with good jobs and a better education for their children. To disseminate her findings, Mogahed is directing Gallup’s Muslim-West Facts Initiative to inform key international opinion leaders about the study.

This spring, she also was called upon to help all citizens in the United States improve their communities during the economic crisis. President Obama named her a member of the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She attended the White House meetings while wearing, as usual, her head scarf.