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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/11/16

American Muslims 15 years after 9/11/2001

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- For Muslims now, 15 years since 9/11, 'it seems more people are more openly hateful' (Penn Live) - Muslim Americans still struggle with hate crimes, 15 years after 9/11 (AOL)
- 15 years after 9/11, unwelcome spotlight returns to Islam (USA Today)
- Muslims are still under attack for their beliefs 15 years after 9/11 (Desert News)

These headlines best reflect the dilemma of the seven-million-strong American Muslim Community which remains target of assault, bigotry, hate-crime and profiling, one and half decade after the horrific terrorist attacks. Muslim men were attacked, some fatally, while Muslim women in headscarves were harassed and mosques and Muslim businesses were vandalized.

In the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, U.S. Muslims were targeted by a slew of hate crimes, some tragically resulting in loss of life. But 15 years after the attacks, religious tolerance and assimilation into the fabric of the country continues to largely elude Muslims in America, whether they are from Middle Eastern or Asian countries, American-born and bred, white or black, says Ivey DeJesus of Penn Live.

Tellingly, in the 15 years since the 9/11, hate towards Muslims has become more openly acceptable. Anti-Islam rhetoric is no longer playing out behind closed doors. It's explicit, not implicit anymore.

A new report by Georgetown University's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding has documented an upsurge in violence against Muslims in the United States. The report cites 180 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence during the period between March 2015 and March 2016. Among these were 12 murders; 34 physical assaults; 56 acts of vandalisms or destruction of property; nine arsons; and eight shootings and bombings. Among the incidents noted were the murders of three university students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the murder of an Iranian-American in California by a white supremacist.

Not surprisingly, there were nearly four times as many attacks against mosques in 2015 compared with 2014, according to a report compiled by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. There were 78 instances where mosques were targeted -- counting vandalism, arson, and other destruction -- in 2015. There were 20 total in 2014, the group counted. Some of the incidents from December 2015 include the firebombing of a mosque in Coachella, California and the discovery of a severed pig's head at a mosque in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On the other hand the 2016 CAIR California Civil Rights Report, which reveals that anti-Muslim bias incidents saw a significant increase since last year.

Few incidents have underscored the paranoia and misconceptions that a wide section of America has about Muslims than the arrest on September 14, 2015 of a 14-year-old Muslim boy in Dallas, Ahmed Mohamed. He was arrested at his MacArthur High School after the school officials called police because he had brought to class a homemade clock that allegedly looked like a bomb. He was suspended from the School for three days.

Relating all the hate attacks, discrimination, mosque vandalism, and other negative incidences related to the American Muslims are beyond the scope of this article.

2016 Elections

Muslim Americans have been at the center of this year's presidential election. As the presidential election draws near, American Muslim community is facing increasing challenges in terms of Islamophobic rhetoric by public figures and the resulting hostility and discrimination. Donald Trump's claim that he witnessed "thousands" of people "cheering" in New Jersey following the September 11, 2001, attacks sparked controversy. Even more controversy followed with the Republican nominee calling for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.

Throughout the campaign, Trump has advocated increased surveillance of Muslim American communities and mosques. He also said he would consider registering Muslim Americans in a database, or requiring Muslims to carry special identification cards. Trump is persisting with his attack on Muslims because it has proven to be his strongest issue, according to exit polls in many Republican primaries.

Trump even provokes controversy when he criticized the Muslim parents of a slain American soldier who was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber in 2004.

The presidential race is stoking fears and racial tensions in America's classrooms. In April 2016, The Southern Poverty Law Center published a report titled "The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on our Nation's Schools." "My students are terrified of Donald Trump. They think that if he's elected, all black people will get sent back to Africa," one middle school teacher told the SPLC.

A majority of Muslim Americans feel unsafe in the United States due to a divisive presidential election that, they report, has negatively impacted their lives, according to the preliminary results of a recent study conducted by Adelphi University, New York. Researchers assessed the impact of Islamophobia on the Muslim American community during the corrosive campaign for the White House. The results, although troubling, were not surprising, say researchers, given the rancorous rhetoric demonizing Muslim Americans, their role in society, and how their culture clashes with purported mainstream American values.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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