Expert: 10 years later, anti-Muslim sentiment high

6 years ago by in Uncategorized Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Ibrahim Hooper, Communications Director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says anti-Muslim sentiment is rising. Photo by Luz Lazo, American Observer

A decade after the 9/11 attacks, national statistics suggest civil rights violations against Muslim-Americans remain at a higher level than before the attacks.

America has seen a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and a surge of anti-Muslim groups in the past few years.

Violent incidents including the bombing at an Islamic center in Jacksonville, Fla., and the slashing of a New York taxi driver have been investigated as hate crimes.

Ibrahim Hooper, with the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, says — despite stabilization since the immediate 9/11 backlash — the level of hostility remains a concern ten years later.

Here is what Hooper had to say about the state of Muslims in America 10 years after 9/11:

What changed after 9/11?

We have experienced a gradual downplaying of civil rights and civil liberties, where you have more restrictions [and] more government intrusions. Immediately after 9/11, obviously, we had hundreds and hundreds of cases of discrimination and backlash and then it peaked and dropped down — but it dropped down to a level that was higher than prior to 9/11.

We have done thousands of civil rights cases over the years. Pre-9/11, it tended to be more individual discrimination cases or hate crimes. After 9/11, it’s more government related, government policies — things stemming from the Patriot Act. People are being asked what mosque they go to when they cross the border from Canada to the U.S. Or some are denied entry to their own country because they are placed arbitrarily on some no-fly list. A lot of this is just security measures that go too far.

What are the challenges now?

Now we have the whole phenomenon of opposition to mosque building nationwide. We have the tremendous rise within the last year or so in the level of anti-Muslim sentiment in our society, primarily sparked by the whole manufactured controversy over the Park 51 Center in Manhattan.

We have the rise of anti-Muslim hate groups like Stop Islamization of America and Act for America. We are getting a lot of cases where Muslim women are attacked on the street lately. We go through a period where we have mosque vandalism or mosque arson attacks. The May before this one we had a bomb attack in Jacksonville, Fla., and nobody even knows about it. A bomb goes off at a mosque and people go, ‘Oh I never heard of that.’ But if a Muslim had done something like that, it would have been international headlines for weeks.

Voices from the street

Al-Rahim Merali Photo by Luz Lazo, American Observer

What some tourists at the U.S. Capitol had to say about the anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. post 9/11

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What’s ahead?

Every 9/11 anniversary we have to think about these things, and particularly on the 10th anniversary when people are going to be marking it even more.

This is history and we have to move forward. Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics, Catholics, Asians have been targeted throughout history. We are just the latest target, but it is the same kind of hate.

I don’t see anything on the horizon that is going to turn the trend around. In fact, unfortunately, I think the trend is getting worse with the rise of anti-Muslim bigotry in our society.

It creates a downward spiral that feeds on itself and it really is going to take the majority of mainstream Americans of all faiths to come together and marginalize extremists of all types. There has to be a willingness on the part of responsible people to do what’s necessary, and so far we haven’t really seen it.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes decline since 9/11 backlash

The number of hate crimes against people of Islamic faith jumped after the 9/11 attacks, and have remained at significantly higher levels than previous to 9/11, FBI statistics show. Anti-Islamic hate crime incidents were the second least reported prior to 2001. After 2001, the attacks became the second highest reported among religious incidents. Despite growing concern among Muslim leaders about anti-Muslim sentiment, the statistics show that hate crime against Muslims have been going down in the last five years and now remain steady.

Source: FBI

Graphic by Luz Lazo, American Observer

The American University School of Communication Graduate Program in Journalism works to prepare students for the realities of today's news and information space and the challenges of tomorrow. Find out more by visiting us online at soc.american.edu

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