Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond

Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond

Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond

Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond

Synopsis

For most Americans, September 11, 2001, symbolized the moment when their security was altered. For Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans, 9/11 also ushered in a backlash in the form of hate crimes, discrimination, and a string of devastating government initiatives. This book provides the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of the post-9/11 events on Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans as well as their organized response. Through fieldwork and interviews with community leaders, Anny Bakalian and Mehdi Bozorgmehr show how ethnic organizations mobilized to demonstrate their commitment to the United States while defending their rights and distancing themselves from the terrorists.

Excerpt

Tuesday, September 11, 2001, stands as one of the darkest days in modern U.S. history. It will long be remembered by the millions of Americans who witnessed the collapse of the Twin Towers over and over on their television screens. For Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans, “9/11” likewise signifies a shocking and sad day, but it also marks the beginning of a new era in which they became the victims of backlash. For many, the tragic events ushered in a period of hate crimes, profiling, and discrimination. Though stereotypes and discriminatory actions were not new to these minorities, the post-9/11 backlash was overwhelming and relentless.

Immediately after the attacks, individuals who appeared Middle Eastern or had Arabic- or Islamic-sounding names became the scapegoats of Americans’ anger and vengeance. Balbir Singh Sodhi was the first murder victim of the backlash because his traditional Sikh looks— dastaar (turban) and kesh (unshorn hair)—were confused with Osama Bin Laden’s kaffiyeh (male headdress) and beard. Ironically, Sikhs are neither Arab nor Muslim. Hate crimes and bias incidents spiked immediately. According to the organization South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT 2001), 645 bias incidents were reported in metropolitan newspapers across the country in the week after 9/11. The New . . .

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