Faced with a choice of White House hopefuls they fear are not entirely sympathetic to their issues, American Muslims are stepping up their activism to unprecedented levels in hopes they can influence the upcoming administration in its infancy. The efforts stem in part from difficulties many Muslim- and Arab-Americans say they have experienced since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, in which they have found themselves on the defensive and struggling to convince at times skeptical fellow citizens that they can be both Muslims and loyal US citizens. While not all Arabs are Muslims or vice versa, they face similar problems and share many of the same concerns. Unease with McCain seems to stem as much from the conservative Bush administration's legacy as the candidate's own views. Arab-Americans are particularly concerned about laws, such as the post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism Patriot Act, that activists argue have led to racial and ethnic profiling and eroding civil liberties.