NEW YORK, Sep 11 (APP): As the U.S. paused Sunday to mark the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Muslims across the country continue to be target of Islamophobia, according to a Muslim advocacy group.
“Muslims continue to be the target of hate, bullying, and discrimination as a result of the stereotypes that were perpetuated by Islamophobes and the media in the years following the 9/11 attacks,” Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was quoted as saying in a media report.
He said organizations like CAIR have helped make “tremendous strides” in countering narratives perpetuated by organizations and individuals who benefit from Islamophobia, but there is still “misformation that fuels hate being spread online.”
“This misinformation can then be perpetuated within school curriculum that isn’t properly vetted, within the workplace, and within government policies,” Ayloush told Anadolu Agency, the Turkish wire service.
“As a result, 21 years after the attacks, Muslims continue to face the threat of targeted violence and are working to amplify narratives about Muslims that are authentic and accurate to counter the spread of misinformation.”
According to FBI statistics, hate crimes immediately against Muslims skyrocketed after 9/11, rising 1.617% from 2000 to 2001, marking some of the highest hate numbers of Islamophobic hate crimes ever seen in America.
After the attacks, Ayloush explained, there was “a perfect storm of the American people and its government needing a common ‘enemy,’ the multimillion-dollar Islamophobia industry, the military-industrial complex, and the growing threat of white nationalism.”
“These factors combined created a volatile environment for Muslims and anyone else perceived as ‘other.’ The unfortunate reality is that there are people and organizations that benefit from perpetuating Islamophobia, bigotry, and war,” he said.
“Sixty-two percent of Muslims report feeling religion-based hostility from others and 65% have felt disrespected. That’s almost three times the percentage among Christians,” Zahra Jamal, associate director of Rice University’s Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance in Houston, was quoted as saying, while referring to an August 2022 study by the school.
“Jewish (60.7%) and Muslim (61.7%) are over twice times as likely as Christians and US adults overall to say they have been subject to verbal insults due to their religion,” Ms. Jamal said.
“Both groups are also more likely to report that they have been threatened with physical violence, chased, or followed, or had their home vandalized due to their religion. They also have higher rates of experiencing physical assault or property damage due to their religion.”
According to Ms. Jamal, just over 80% of Muslims reported that “others assumed things about them due to their religion,” while 21% of Muslim adults reported police harassment – ??about five times the percentage found among the next highest group.
She said the numbers related to discrimination against Muslims are alarming and show just how much Islamophobia has increased in the US over the past several years.
“For Muslims, scores on the Islamophobia Index have increased from 18 in 2018 to 26 in 2022,” she said.
“Internalized Islamophobia is more prevalent among younger Muslims, who have faced anti-Muslim tropes in popular culture, news, social media, political rhetoric, and in policy. This negatively impacts their self-image and mental health.”
However, CAIR said the statistics are not surprising, considering the current volatile political climate in the US that was perpetuated by former President Donald Trump during his term in office.
“Trump’s presidency normalized being an anti-Muslim bigot. He made it socially acceptable to be overtly anti-Muslim,” said Ayloush.
“Besides constantly retweeting anti-Muslim rhetoric from Islamophobic entities from his now-permanently suspended Twitter account and stating during his campaign that he thinks ‘Islam hates us,’ he also made multiple xenophobic commentary and policies about Muslim immigrants and refugees. And his administration pushed forward anti-Muslim policies … with very little regard to their discriminatory intent. ”
An action that “spoke louder than his Islamophobic words was the Muslim Ban, which banned travelers from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the US,” Ayloush said.
“Although the current administration overturned the ban, we are still dealing with the ramifications of it to this day with many families still being separated,” he added.