Throughout American history there has never been an attack as tragic and life changing for citizens all over the nation, as the attacks on September 11 2001. The 9/11 attacks have taken a toll on the lives of many different citizens across the country. The families of those who died in the buildings, the first responders, and the everyday citizens, along with religious believers. The lives of Muslim Americans would never be the same again. The way that they practice, the way that they interact with the public, as well as the way Muslim children are treated at school by their teachers and other children. There are some out there that believe that the Islamic religion teaches hatred and are based off of radical ideas. Bringing in the view that America was attacked by Muslims with radical idea, but these views are also connecting those who do not agree or believe these radical ideas. Despite these claims there are hate crimes and discrimination problems going on with Muslim families all over the country, and it is a problem that demands attention now more than ever.
The phrase “Radical Islam” takes on a new meaning after the 9/11 attacks. Around 18 month ago according to source 1 (New York Times When a Phrase Takes On A New Meaning: ‘Radical Islam’ Explained) President Obama and his team avoid using the phrase Radical Islam. Source 2, (War on ISIS: Who’s doing what?) explains what steps are being taken when dealing with the defeat of the terrorist group ISIS. By using the term ‘Radical Islam’ there is a connection being made between ISIS terrorists and Muslims who practice the Islamic religion. Shadi Hamid fa scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington comments that “ the phrase has worrisome connotations, potentially maligning all Muslims or Islam itself.” (source 1). There is a sense with anti-Muslim campaigners such at “ Ben Carson, who insisted that Muslims should be barred from the presidency, Mr. Cruz, urging Syrian refugees if they are Muslim to be refused, and our current president Trump who invented the phrase ‘Radical Islam’ with a new meaning (source 1). Trump also claims that “he witnessed ‘thousands’ of people ‘cheering’ in New Jersey following the September 11, 2001” attacks (source 6). Author of source 1, Max Fisher writes that ‘Radical Islamic violence’ condemns a religion and leaves an impression that the interpretations of Islam that are specifically against violence, with in those who practice the Islamic religion, are non-existent. Then within some eyes the labeling of ISIS as ‘Radical Islam legitimizes the groups claims to represent an entire religion when in fact most of ISIS’s victims are in fact Muslim. As source 1 explains there are only 38% of Americans that know personally someone who is Muslim according to a 2014 Pew poll, meaning that by labeling these terrorist groups ‘Radical Islam’s’ it is a way to make sense of the rise of the Islamic State for those who do not understand what is completely going on with the fight against ISIS. There are different attacks all over the country post-9/11. The mass San Bernardino, California in late 2015, and the terrorist attacks in Paris. “38 of the attacks were regarded as anti-Islamic” (Source 6). There is also no evidence that labeling ISIS has legitimized the groups claims, it does make an impact on those who are citizens of the United States practicing the Islamic religion. These claims lump these American citizens into the same group at the radicals. Leaving the Muslim community open for harassment, in November 2015 source 5 saw over 17 anti-Muslim incidents at mosques with the rising amount of terrorists aligned with the Islamic State recently killing 130 people in Paris. There are hate crimes going on all over the country against American Muslims unabated, and the political rhetoric is not helping at all.
Muslim children absolutely should not be prosecuted for the actions of terrorists and their decisions made back in 2001. That was almost 16 years ago and there are children in elementary school who weren’t even born when the attacks happened, who are bullied for their religion. Source 3, The pain of growing up Muslim in post-9/11 America, shares examples of children being harassed and bullied because they are Muslim or have Middle Eastern heritage. Mahjabeen Syed, the author, shares the stories of his childhood, they way that his mother made him go to school on the first anniversary of the attacks. Then when he went to school during the moment of silence everyone was sneaking peeks and whispering about Syed, including his teacher. Then at the age of 11 Syed was first called a terrorist (source 3). The story of another child’s experiences are brought on and fueled by anger from attacks that he doesn’t even remember. Growing up this little boy was taught the same things that every other child is taught about the attacks, except there is more to his stories. This little boy was also told by his mother every time September 11 did come around that “The people that did that are evil. Muslims would never do something like that. There is nothing to tell us to do that…” (source 4). Another little girl went to school on a September 11 anniversary, dressed in her white shirt, blue jeans, and red belt walking out of the house feeling extremely patriotic like any little girl would. But unlike any other girl she feels as though she has to prove to the other children and adults in her school that she is patriot, and that she loves the country that she was born in; all the while worried that she overdressed and maybe they think that she is trying to hide something (source 3). There is absolutely no reason that any child should have to feel this way. Let alone an American citizen born and raised being bullied and harassed in a place that is supposed to be safe for any child no matter the skin color, age, or religion. The post-9/11 world has affected more children than just Muslims. The attacks have affected the way that children like Craig Jennings, Jeffrey Lozotte, and another 16 year old boy were charged with a hate crime after “allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail onto the roof of a convenience store owned by Arab Americans.” In Fort Worth, Texas three middle school students were charged with making a terroristic threat after “allegedly threatening and harassing a fellow student of Indian descent.” (source 7). These incidents are not the images that first pop into your head when you think of all the children affected by the attacks. The attacks have taken a toll on the lives of more children than studies give credit for. The attacks have obviously taken its toll on the Muslim American children, but also those who have picked up opinions from their parents about Muslims. These children are picking up habits and ways of interacting with Middle Eastern descendants in the way that their parents interact with this type of American.
One of the largest, most talked about problems going on in the Muslim community post-9/11, is the hate crime. The damage done to Mosque’s, harassment that women go through for wearing their Hijab, the vandalism are all major things that Muslims still 16 years post attacks have to deal with on a daily basis. As source 1 informs us, the incidents against mosques break down into four categories: Damage, destruction or vandalism. Harassment including the use of anti-Islamic slurs, Intimidation or threats, and Clear bias during local zoning proceeding in which Muslims are seeking to build mosques. In 2015 there were over 63 incident at mosques in the U.S. so far tripling the number seen in 2014. “Gunshots fired into a mosque in Connecticut.” (source 5). “Death threats called in to mosques in Florida, Maryland and Virginia.” (source 5). These are all things that I as a non-Muslim American will never have to deal with in my entire life. I will never have to explain to my children why they are being picked on and told to go back to their own country, even though they were born in America (source 7). My families restaurant will never be burned down because I have Pakistani heritage. I will never have to deal with the trauma that comes along with being held at gunpoint while being harassed with anti-Arab threats (source 7). These are all situations that Muslim Americans go through. Having to deal with every day. Fathers calling their college student daughters begging them not to wear their Hijab out in public for fear of her safety. Girls abandoning their faith and ideals for fear of harassment and ridicule (source 6). There are so many different hate crimes that are generated by the 9/11 attacks that still 16 years later there are assaults, vandalization, and harassment going on in the Muslim community.
Given these points, there are so many different things going on in the life of a Muslim American. Whether they are adults who watched the attacks and remember the distinct overnight change, or the children who only know what is talked about and taught about the attacks, it changed lives. The life of non-Muslim citizens were greatly impacted by the attacks, the way people do business, and fly are all different after the attacks, but not nearly as drastic of an impact as Muslims have had on their lives post-9/11.