Prejudice against American Muslims after 9/11


September 11, 2001 marked the beginning of a rise in prejudice against American Muslims. As stated by the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims increased after the events of 9/11. Since September 11, Muslims have experienced Islamophobia. According to A Georgetown University Initiative, Islamophobia is “extreme fear and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that leads to hate speech and hate crimes, as well as social and political discrimination.”

In an anonymous survey, students at Georgia Southern University were asked if they thought Islamophobia existed. 100% of respondents answered “yes”. Here is what students at Georgia Southern University had to say about experiencing or bearing witness to Islamophobia:

  • “I’m not a Muslim, but I have some experience with Islamophobia. Since I learned Arabic, I call my pets “Habibi”, which is an affectionate term in Arabic. Some people objected to this and wondered why I speak a ‘pagan’ language!”
  • “Yes, I was the subject of verbal attacks and jokes.”

60% of students have not experienced or witnessed Islamophobia. When asked what contributes to Islamophobia, students responded by saying:

  • “Excessive media coverage of Islamic fundamentalists, misinformation and ignorance of what Islam actually teaches, and lack of coverage of positive things about Islam and the positive contributions of its followers.”
  • “Disinformation.”
  • “Ignorance and refusal to learn and understand others.”
  • “People are absolutely stupid and prejudiced and treat people like ‘others’ rather than understanding that we’re all human and what I believe has nothing to do with you.”
  • “A lack of understanding of Islam itself, alleged ethnic and racial stereotypes that lead to prejudice, the need to identify an evil ‘enemy’ or ‘other’, misinterpretations of Islam and Muslim identity that portray negative aspects of human behavior rather than true spiritual and cultural beliefs.

Students were also asked, “How did attitudes towards American Muslims or those perceived to be Muslims change after 9/11?” Students answered the question with:

  • “I believe attitudes became more hostile toward American Muslims after 9/11. It seemed that the widespread belief was that the likelihood was high that most Muslims had the propensity to radicalize. Therefore, they could not be trusted. A clear distinction was not made between Islamic fundamentalists and loyal Muslims.
  • “Hate crimes against Muslims increased significantly after 9/11.”
  • “People started to assume that all Muslims were terrorists and became very negative and racist towards them.”
  • “People have definitely developed tendencies to group all Muslims together, as well as people who look similar, and they have decided to blame an extreme act of a small group of people on everyone who could possibly look like them.”
  • “From what I understand, there was already a strong tension, going back centuries. But, after the attacks of September 11, there was and continues to be a rise in Islamophobia and discriminatory actions against Muslims and those perceived as such.

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