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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/14/21

American Muslims 20 years after 9/11

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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"The rising power of American Muslims" is the title of special issue of The Newsweek on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It published an article by Steve Friess under the title: Since 9/11, US Muslims have gained unprecedented political, cultural influence.

It's been an impressive 2021 so far for Muslim Americans. The U.S. Senate, that bastion of partisan gridlock, overwhelmingly confirmed, Judge Zaidi Quraishi, the nation's first Muslims as a federal district court judge and Lina Khan to chair the Federal Trade Commission. Legislatures in five states swore in their first Muslim members, including a non-binary, queer hijab-wearing representative in, of all places, Oklahoma. Three Detroit suburbs are poised this fall to elect their first Muslim mayors, according to the Newsweek.

The recent rise of many Muslim Americans to positions of power and influencein Washington and in statehouses, on big screens and small ones, across playing fields and news desksis a development that few in the U.S. would have predicted two decades ago, Muslims included.

It is the experience of coming of age in this post-9/11 environment, experts say, that drew a new generation of young Muslims to activism, and motivated them to use their voices in political and cultural arenas to debunk misinformation. That they've found a receptive audience beyond the Muslim community suggests to some observers that many Americans now understand that the anti-Islamic rhetoric they've been served in recent years is based on myths and untrue. As Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who in 2007 became the first Muslim sworn in as a member of Congress, tells Newsweek, "The haters have been proven to be liars."

9/11 set off a wave of Islamophobia that has endured to this day

The September 11 attacks stirred a crescendo of Islamophobia that for the next two decades challenged their beliefs about what it means to be American, according to Dallas News.

Muslims were not the only victims of post-9/11 Islamophobia. The hate against the community also plagued others, such as Sikhs and other non-Muslims of South Asian descent, who were targeted solely for their appearance.

Harbhajan Singh, 65, director of the Gurdwara Nishkam Seva religious and community center in Irving,Texas, said Sikhs around the country were harassed and assaulted because of their religious practice of having beards and wearing turbans.

But rather than reject or distance themselves from the Muslim community, Singh said, many Sikhs, including those in Dallas-Fort Worth, chose to show solidarity.

"We made connections to show them that we support them in their time of need. The Muslim community is as affected by these extremists as perhaps other communities are," he said. "We felt that the Muslim community was being wrongfully, collectively aligned with these extreme views and they need the support of other people to come around to fight against those types of sentiments together."

Muslims growing up post-9/11 still can't escape the long shadow of that day

Muslims who grew up post-9/11 are unable to escape the long shadow of that day, forever pushed to be on the defensive, to justify our place in this country, according to Boston Globe.

What followed the attacks was a war on terror that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives overseas, stripped our civil rights here at home, and caused enormous spikes in anti-Muslim violence.

One of the terrifying anti-Muslim violence happened in 2015 when three Muslim college students were shot to death in Chapel Hill, N.C., by a man who prosecutors said had made hateful comments to them in the past. In 2017, a shooter killed six people at a Quebec City mosque. Two years later, 51 Muslim worshipers were killed in attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Islamophobia does not just hurt Muslims. On Sept. 15, 2001, in what is believed to be the first hate-motivated murder in response to 9/11, a Sikh gas station owner was fatally shot in Mesa, Arizona and in 2012, a gunman killed six people at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, before shooting himself. Experts suspected he believed he was targeting a mosque.

The reverberations from 9/11 are far from history

Twenty years may have passed, but for Muslims, the reverberations from 9/11 are far from history.

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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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