"This is true brotherhood. This is true love for humanity," Hanan Shahid said. He was referring to the unique position that some Ahmadi Muslims now find themselves in: Persecuted in countries like Pakistan for not being "true" Muslims, members of the Ahmadiyya minority sect have long struggled for acceptance and the freedom to practice their version of Islam.

Here in America, where recent acts of violence and simmering Islamophobia have put many Muslims on edge, Ahmadi Muslim-Americans now find themselves representing and defending the very religion in which they themselves have not been fully accepted.

"It's almost ironic that we're fighting the battle for true Islam ... [for] the Muslims that are out there that are denouncing us. ... We are upholding the faith of Islam, which they believe in as well," Shahid said.

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