Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle plague of Islamophobia in US

11 Sep 2022 10:30pm
Members of the military and first responders stand in salute as an American flag is unfurled on the side of the Pentagon to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Photo by Anna Moneymaker/AFP
Members of the military and first responders stand in salute as an American flag is unfurled on the side of the Pentagon to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Photo by Anna Moneymaker/AFP
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HOUSTON - Commemorations for the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks remain an important part of United States history, but for Muslim-Americans, post-9/11 ramifications of Islamophobia have bled deep into the fabric of American society more than two decades later.

"Muslims continue to be the target of hate, bullying, and discrimination as a result of the stereotypes that were perpetuated by Islamophobes and the media in the years following the 9/11 attacks,” said executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA), Hussam Ayloush.

He said organisations like CAIR have helped make "tremendous strides” in countering narratives perpetuated by organisations and individuals who benefit from Islamophobia, but there is still misinformation that fuels hate being spread online.

"This misinformation can then be perpetuated within school curriculum that isn’t properly vetted, within the workplace, and within government policies,” Ayloush told Anadolu Agency via email.

"As a result, 21 years after the attacks, Muslims continue to face the threat of targeted violence and are working to amplify narratives about Muslims that are authentic and accurate to counter the spread of misinformation.”

According to FBI statistics, hate crimes against Muslims skyrocketed immediately after 9/11, rising 1,617 per cent from 2000 to 2001, marking some of the highest numbers of Islamophobic hate crimes ever seen in America.

After the attacks, Ayloush explained, there was "a perfect storm of the American people and its government needing a common ‘enemy,’ the multimillion-dollar Islamophobia industry, the military-industrial complex, and the growing threat of white nationalism.”

"These factors combined created a volatile environment for Muslims and anyone else perceived as ‘other.’ The unfortunate reality is that there are people and organisations that benefit from perpetuating Islamophobia, bigotry, and war,” he said.

Islamophobia, which is defined as the dislike of, or prejudice against, Islam or Muslims, still remains prevalent in the US.

Associate director of Rice University’s Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance in Houston, Zahra Jamal, said "62 per cent of Muslims report feeling religion-based hostility from others and 65 per cent have felt disrespected."

"That’s almost three times the percentage among Christians,” she said, referring to an August 2022 study by the school.

According to Jamal, just over 80 per cent of Muslims reported that "others assumed things about them due to their religion,” while 21 per cent of Muslim adults reported police harassment -- about five times the percentage found among the next highest group.

She said the numbers related to discrimination against Muslims are alarming and show just how much Islamophobia has increased in the US over the past several years. - BERNAMA

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