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Columbia The New Americans: Homelands and Diasporas

Minorities Representing Majorities

By Karim Bardeesy, July 26, 2007

by Karim Bardeesy and Anna-Katarina Gravgaard

Many American politicians tout their Judeo-Christian heritage. Many tell stories of the immigrant experience of their parents. But a precious few are immigrants themselves. And even a smaller number belong to minority faiths, such as Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.

News21 has identified more than 40 such politicians who are, in effect, minorities representing majorities. Below, you will find an interactive map with detailed snapshots of each. Plus, for a closer look at seven of them, click to view the video profiles at right.

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User's Note for Legislator's Map

To get more information about elected officials who are immigrants or from historically underrepresented religious backgrounds, click the pins on the map above. The large pins are those officials for whom we also provide video profiles. Also, you can click and drag on the map to move around the country, or use the scroll bar at the top left of the map to zoom in and out.

Meet the Legislators
Click on the image for video profile

See how Harry Sidhu connects with his American-born constituents and his fellow Sikh immigrants in Anaheim, Calif.
Join Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, on his never-ending campaign trail.
Follow Swati Dandekar's unlikely journey from Nagpur, India to the Iowa State Legislature.
Join Hmong-American Pakou Hang during her campaign for a seat on the St. Paul, Minn., city council.
Learn how Colombia native Patricia Torres Ray, who grew up wanting to become a nun, faces a conflict with her church.
Observe New Jersey State Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula's Hindu spiritual practice.
Meet Jimmy Delshad of Beverly Hills, Calif., the United States’ first Iranian-born mayor.

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Over six months, members of the Columbia News21 team traveled 525,000 miles across the United States, Canada, India and Iran in search of a better understanding of minority religions and the immigrants who practice them.

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