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American Muslims 19 years after 9/11

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Nineteen years after the ghastly tragedy of 9/11, civil rights remain the major problem for the seven-million-strong American Muslim community.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the US economy and disturbed the social life; however, even in these challenging times American Muslims were victims of hate crimes, discrimination and Islamophobia. Almost two decades after 9/11, American Muslims are still dealing with the fall-out of this tragic event.

Following Trump's 2016 election, American Muslims experienced a spike in hate crimes, according to data from the FBI. American Muslim leaders attributed the spike to anti-Muslim rhetoric espoused by Trump and some of his close associates.

Here are few examples from recent months:

President Trump re-tweeted a post by an anti-Muslim bigot critical of former vice president Joe Biden for engaging in outreach to American Muslim voters and pledging to end the Muslim ban. Trump retweeted a July 21st post by Paul Sperry, who wrote, "BREAKING: Biden wishes public schools taught more about Islam; promises Muslims he will end terrorism-related ban on immigration from high-risk Islamic nations ... on Day One." According to Georgetown University's Bridge Initiative, Sperry has blamed Islam for the spread of the Ebola virus, called former President Barack Obama the "defender-in-chief of Islam", warned of an "Islamic fifth column" growing inside America, accused tax-reform activist Grover Norquist of "ties to militant Muslim activists", and written multiple debunked books attacking Islam and Muslims.

In June, President Trump appointed former Breitbart writer, white-supremacist sympathizer and anti-Muslim bigot Sebastian Gorka to the National Security Education Board. The 14-member National Security Education Board provides strategic consultation and oversight for the National Security Education Program. This program develops expertise for the U.S. federal government workforce and also provides grants to universities and scholarships for students to study languages and regions critical to national security.

Politicians have added fuel to the fire of anti-Islam sentiments in the United States. Islamophobia has become a campaign tool used to galvanize voters. The heightened rhetoric has exposed an alarming trend that has developed after 9/11. Muslims are constantly and consistently cast as somehow un-American because of their faith.

Muslim Americans have expressed concern and alarm after Republican candidate Laura Loomer, who has described herself as a "proud Islamophobe" and called Islam a "cancer", won her primary in Florida, earning praise from President Donald Trump, Newsweek reported on August 19. Loomer, 27, won the GOP primary for Florida's 21st District, home to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

On August 29, Republican Mitch Swoboda, who is running to represent the 37th district of Michigan, shared an Islamophobic meme on Facebook equating the wearing of face masks to protect persons from COVID-19 infection with the false trope that women lack rights of personal choice within Islam. The meme states, "That's why they [Arabs] imposed on every woman the mandatory use of a fabric over her face. Then Islam turned it into the woman's symbol of submission to Allah, the man owner of the Harem, and the King."

Hate Crimes against American Muslims

An Arab-American teenager in New York was assaulted on August 13 with a baseball bat. The Council on American-Islamic Relations called this "an anti-immigrant, anti-Arab, and racially charged attack." The victim was identified as Tarek Elsayed, an 18-year-old Egyptian-American.

Somaia Harrati, a 17-year-old American Moroccan Muslim woman wearing hijab, was assaulted with a bottle of urine and Islamophobic slurs on August 10 in Bronx, New York. The NYPD was urged to initiate a hate-crimes probe in the Islamophobic incident.

On July 2, 2020, in New York, Rashid Hassan, a Pakistani taxi driver, was assaulted and told "Go back to your country." The police and an ambulance were called to the scene. Mr. Hassan was taken to the hospital and may need surgery on his eye to prevent blindness due to a blood clot resulting from the assault. Another driver nearby recorded the incident and provided the footage to the responding officers.

A 50-year-old Muslim man was assaulted outside the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., on the night of August 6. The victim was walking to Dar Al-Farooq when two people described as being in their late teens or early twenties approached and assaulted him, according to police. The victim suffered a non-life-threatening injury and was transported to Fairview Southdale Hospital.

On September 9, Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported a Muslim man in that state by an alleged attacker who is shown shouting "Go back to your country" during the incident. The assault was captured on video.

In short, years after 9/11 terrorist attacks, American Muslims remain on the receiving end.

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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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