>> Nadeem Mazen is a city councilor in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He's also the founder of a newly formed Muslim political action group. Called Justice Education Technology Policy Advocacy Center, or Jetpac. Inside the Al-Noor Academy, a Muslim high school on the outskirts of Boston, Mazen is teaching the basics of political organizing.
Reuters correspondent Scott Malone was there.>> The group aims to inspire a new generation of political leadership. That could serve as something of a counterweight to the negative perceptions that Americans often apply to Muslims. And while it's one that's been in development for a long time. The Jetpac founder Nadeem Mazen says it is clearly taking on additional urgency for the students here.
In the early days of the Donald Trump presidency.>> You win by working for social justice in your community and being a model.>> Through classes like these, Jetpac hopes to educate Muslims on how to build networks of like-minded people. And bring them out to influence city councilors, mayors, state representatives, and members of Congress.
The need is clear. The number of anti-Muslim attacks in the US reported to the FBI last year, the highest since 2001 after 9/11. Donald Trump's rhetoric about radical Islam and terrorism. And his executive order banning travel to the US from seven Muslim majority nations. Leads many to fear they will play the role of scapegoat under a Trump administration.
There are about 3.3 million Muslims in America according to Pew Research Center. And Mazen believes the community is ready to take a more active role in determining its fate.>> I think for a long time the biggest challenge to getting the American Muslim community more politically active. Has been the fact that many leaders have felt on the defensive and so they spend their time reacting.
I'll go on CNN and I'll talk about things on someone else's terms. But now, not just in 2017 but frankly for the last ten years or so. Those in my generation, those in an older generation, certainly those in a younger generation. Have been saying, we set our own narrative.
>> A sophomore at the Al-Noor Academy, is too young to vote, but she gets the message.>> So you guys need to come together and you need to learn how to be one group. And you need to learn how to be educatied before you make decisions. And you need to learn how to be organized, and to run on time, and to take things seriously.
You can't just say I'll wait for someone else to do it.>> Mazen knows political change doesn't happen overnight. But Jetpac hopes to eventually offer versions of the class in public and private schools across the US.