Home Breaking News Two decades after 9/11, Muslim Americans still fighting bias

Two decades after 9/11, Muslim Americans still fighting bias

Two decades after 9/11, Muslim Americans still fighting bias

NEW YORK (AP) — A car passed, the driving force’s window rolled down and the person spat an epithet at two diminutive ladies carrying their hijabs: “Terrorist!”

It used to be 2001, mere weeks after the World Commerce Center fell, and 10-365 days-frail Shahana Hanif and her younger sister had been walking to the native mosque from their Brooklyn home.

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As the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror assaults approaches, Hanif still recalls her confusion over how anyone would possibly per chance well maintain a examine her, a baby, and leer a possibility.

“It’s no longer a nice, form be conscious. It procedure violence, it procedure unsafe. It is meant to shock whoever … is on the receiving slay of it,” she says.

However the incident additionally spurred a resolution to talk out for herself and others. She’s turn out to be a community organizer and is strongly appreciated to desire a seat on the Contemporary York City Council in an upcoming election.

Fancy Hanif, other young American Muslims maintain grown up below the shadow of 9/11. Many maintain confronted hostility, suspicion, questions about their faith, doubts over their Americanness.

They’ve additionally found ways to fight reduction towards bias, to organize, to craft nuanced non-public narratives about their identities. Within the middle of, they’ve constructed bridges and challenged stereotypes.

There is “this sense of being Muslim as a invent of crucial id marker, no topic your relationship with Islam as a faith,” says Eman Abdelhadi, a University of Chicago sociologist.

Mistrust of Muslims didn’t delivery on 9/11, nonetheless it dramatically intensified with the assaults.

The United States’s numerous Muslim communities had been foisted into the spotlight, says Youssef Chouhoud, a political scientist at Virginia’s Christopher Newport University.

“Your sense of who you had been used to be becoming more formed, no longer good-searching Muslim nonetheless American Muslim,” he says. “What illustrious you as an American Muslim? Would possibly per chance well well you be fully both, or did or no longer it’s miles a must pick on to get? There used to be a lot of grappling with what that meant.”

In Hanif’s case, there used to be no blueprint.

“Fifth-grader me wasn’t naïve or too young to know Muslims are in hazard,” she wrote in an essay about 9/11′s aftermath. “…Flashing an American flag from our first-floor windows didn’t manufacture me more American.”

A young Hanif gathered neighborhood company to jot down a letter to then-President George W. Bush asking for protection.

“We knew,” she says, “that we’d turn out to be admire warriors of this community.”


However being warriors in total carries a tag.

Ishaq Pathan, 26, recalls when a boy suggested him he seemed furious and questioned if Pathan used to be going to explode their Connecticut college.

He remembers feeling helpless when taken apart at an airport for added questioning upon returning to the US after a college semester in Morocco.

The agent regarded thru his property, alongside with the computer computer the build he saved a non-public journal, and commenced reading it.

“I maintain in mind having tears in my eyes. I was entirely and fully powerless,” says Pathan.

“You lag to college with other of us of quite a lot of backgrounds and you mark … what the promise of the US is,” he provides. “And whereas you leer it no longer dwelling as a lot as that promise, then I mediate it instills in us a approach of searching out for to abet and repair that.”

He now works because the San Francisco Bay Set up director for the nonprofit Islamic Networks Neighborhood, attempting to abet younger generations develop assured in their Muslim id.


Born in Somalia, Shukri Olow fled civil struggle with her family and lived in Kenyan refugee camps sooner than indirectly discovering home in a public housing advanced in Kent, south of Seattle.

After 9/11, she recalls feeling perplexed when a trainer in The United States asked, “What are your of us doing?”

This present day, she’s searching out out a seat on the King County Council.

“There are many youngsters who maintain multiple identities who maintain felt that they don’t belong right here, that they devise no longer seem like welcomed right here,” she says. “I was the kind of youngsters. And so I try to compose what I will to verify that that more of us know that right here is our nation, too.”


After 9/11, some American Muslims selected to dispel misconceptions about their faith thru non-public connections.

Mansoor Shams has traveled across the U.S. with a signal reading: “I’m Muslim and a U.S. Marine, set apart a anticipate to the rest.” It’s fragment of the 39-365 days-frail faded’s efforts to counter hate thru dialogue.

In 2019, he spoke to college students at Liberty University in Virginia; some still name him with questions about Islam.

“There’s this mutual adore and appreciate,” he says.

Shams wishes his present work wasn’t mandatory nonetheless feels a accountability to share a counternarrative he says many Americans don’t know.

Ahmed Ali Akbar, 33, came to a different conclusion.

Rapidly after 9/11, some adults in his community organized for an assembly at his college in Saginaw, Michigan, the build he and other college students talked about Islam and Muslims. However he recalls his confusion at just a few of the questions: The build is Osama bin Weighted down? What’s the reason within the help of the assaults?

That duration left him feeling admire attempting to commerce of us’s minds wasn’t continuously effective.

Akbar indirectly became his middle of attention in direction of telling stories about Muslim Americans on his podcast “Survey One thing Assert One thing.”

“There’s a lot of humor within the Muslim American abilities as properly,” he says. “It’s no longer all good-searching sadness and reaction to the violence and…racism and Islamophobia.”


Amirah Ahmed, 17, used to be born after the assaults and feels she used to be thrust into a struggle no longer of her making.

About a years ago at her Virginia college’s 9/11 commemoration, she felt college students’ stares at her and her hijab.

For the next anniversary, she wore her Americanness as a protect, donning an American flag scarf to address her classmates from a podium.

Ahmed spoke about honoring both the lives of of us that died in The United States on 9/11 and of Iraqis who died within the struggle launched in 2003. She says it used to be a “in actual fact extremely effective second.”

However she hopes her future youngsters don’t feel the pick on to level to they belong.

“Our youngsters are going to be (right here) properly after the 9/11 technology,” she says. “They wouldn’t pick on to proceed fighting for their id.”


Fam, who reported from Cairo, Egypt, covers Islam for the AP’s global faith crew. Henao covers faith & childhood for the crew. Hajela is a member of the AP’s crew covering elope and ethnicity. AP video journalist Noreen Nasir contributed to this listing.


Connected Press faith protection receives strengthen from the Lilly Endowment thru The Dialog U.S. The AP is totally accountable for this teach.

Two decades after 9/11, Muslim Americans still fighting bias