Reflecting on September 11th

by: Rohan

A Day of Grief and Shock

On September 11th, 2001 the entire world watched in shock as one of the worst acts of terrorism in American history unfolded on national television. Decades later, the day continues to serve as a reminder of the tragic loss of life and fear that ensued in national discourse immediately after the collapse of the world trade towers.

In this period, there were substantial changes made in the name of national security to protect the airline industry. Simultaneously, there was significant backlash against people of colour and more specifically Muslims. Hate crimes against Muslims increased from 28 in the year 2000 to 481 in the year 2001 based on FBI reporting. While this event occurred 20 years ago, hate crime numbers remained high with 219 in 2019.

The reality of being a Muslim American in 2021

According to a recent poll by the Associated Press, 53% of Americans have unfavourable views towards Islam. The reality for Muslims in America is that national grief and tragedy was weaponized to scapegoat them. The effects of this fear-mongering have lingered on for years and continue to fuel hate.

The acts of a small number of extremists, who do not represent the values of Islam became associated with the religion as a whole in the eyes of the American public. In reality, New York Muslims faced a tragedy on two fronts. As citizens of the city they had to deal with the grief of an attack on the community they grew up and lived in. Unlike other citizens however, they were also faced with being blamed for the act of terrorism.

A 2017 poll conducted by Pew Research Center indicated that half of respondents described at least one instance of discrimination on the basis of their religion. In a country that prides itself on valuing freedom, there is still a long way to go for American society to become truly inclusive.

Being an Ally

Allyship is an important component in dismantling the racist rhetoric that targets Muslims in the United States. Here are some steps you can take to upgrade your allyship:

  • Learning, listening, actively challenging and dismantling barriers experienced by people from marginalized groups
  • Using privilege to draw attention to and combat systemic biases and societal inequities
  • Taking consistent and meaningful action to stand up for marginalized individuals and/or groups of people
  • Educating yourself on and supporting under-represented groups

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