Has anyone ever told you that Salt Lake City reminds them of Baghdad?
The first time it happened we were surprised. The second time we decided to take a closer look. What exactly is it about the global headquarters of the Mormon Church that makes it a comfortable home for Iraqis?
Islam and Mormonism may be a surprise pairing, but they do have at least one thing in common: both are marginalized in American society.
Research conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that Americans see Islam and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as on the fringe, although in recent years perceptions of Mormons have improved while perceptions of Muslims have worsened. In a global context, both faiths are mainstream. About one-fourth of the world is Muslim and that number is growing faster than any other religious group. Meanwhile, while Latter-day Saints number far fewer than Muslims, the world Mormon population has swelled in recent years, with 60 percent of the world’s 14 million Mormons now living outside of the U.S.
Latitude News asked two Utah residents, an American-born Mormon and an Iraqi-born Muslim, to sit down for a conversation on Baghdad and Salt Lake City, cultural perceptions and faith. Margaret Young and Mohammed Mushib are eloquent, funny, sharp and, frankly, a little tired of being seen as “fringy.”