The impact of 9/11 on US Muslims

Pre-University Paper, 2018

23 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

1. Preface

2. September 11th,

3. History of U.S. Muslims in America
3.1 The beginning of a niche for Muslims in America

4. U.S. Muslims after the attacks
4.1 U.S. Muslims lives in the post-9/11 era?
4.2 What do Muslims think about their lives in America?

5. The impact of the change in presidency from Obama to Trump
5.1 How did the relations with the Islam change?
5.2 Did laws or restrictions change for U.S.-Muslims?

6. How Muslims are seen today
6.1 General Information
6.2 Americans view on Muslims in America

7. Summary and own Statement


1. Preface

Due to my stay in the United States of America as an exchange student for one year, I have spent a lot of time dealing with important events that occurred in American history. Of course, September 11th, 2001 was one of the most significant and most memorable days. Experiencing the day, 9/11, in America gave me a whole other point of view on how emotional and unforgettable this day really is. In Saint Louis, we went to a big ceremony, where all the people were remembered and honored that were killed that day. They put up an American flag for every person that died including a picture and their names. All in all, there were 2,977 flags at just one place, which really impressed me and made me start thinking about the consequences that this attack had. I really wanted to visit New York to form a better opinion of the place where it happened. When we flew there, we visited the 9/11 memorial. It is a fountain made of the shape of the twin towers and it includes all the names of the people who died, craved in on the outside marble walls. I knew that it was a terrible and horrifying day for the whole world, but this time in America impacted me so much as a person that I wanted to know more about how human beings can perform such an immoral act and destroy thousands of lives. I did not understand, and I was appalled at the savagery and the repugnance, that people could just fly planes in a building full of innocent people, that have a family at home waiting for them to return from work and knowing that there will be so many people who will lose their beloved ones. Thousands of unknowing children asking for their parents, but who will never be able to see them again. Furthermore, I understood what it meant for Muslims in America and was impressed of how they dealt with all the hate they had to face afterwards. So, through all those indelible and impacting experiences and memories I decided on writing about the day, that changed the world forever and will never be forgotten.

First, I will talk about the attacks of September 11th, 2001 because they set the starting point for the changing lives of the Muslims in America. Then, I will reveal the development of Muslims in America, meaning how and why they came to America and how they were treated. Afterwards I will talk about the consequences this day had for the Muslims in America and how they feel about it. Then I will consider the change of presidency from Obama to Trump and the impact this had on the Muslims. Finally, I will include a survey I made, revealing the different opinions of various people in the United States of America.

2. September 11th, 2001

“September 11 and Operation Enduring Freedom, the global war on terrorism, and the war in Iraq and its aftermath-have dramatically affected the Muslim world attitudes toward the United States.” [1]. On September 11th, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States by hijacking four planes. 19 terrorists boarded commercial jetliners with the objective to turn them into flying weapons of destruction. They chose representable American buildings, for example the Twin Towers, which represented America’s power and influence, to convey the profundity of their repugnance to the United States. Two of them flew into the World Trade Center, a 16-acre commercial complex in lower Manhattan, in New York City, which ultimately caused them to catch fire and eventually break down sustained from the impacts. According to Stefan Aust Flight 11 hit the floors 93 to 99 of the North Tower at 8:45 a.m. and Flight 175 struck floors 77 to 85 of the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. (from [2]). The third plane crashed into the Pentagon, the U.S. military headquarters in Virginia, and the fourth plane was either meant to fly into the White House or the U.S. Capitol, but crashed into a field near Pennsylvania because passengers managed to prevent them from reaching their target. On this day, passengers, crew members, people inside the buildings or firefighters on the ground, who desperately ran into the collapsing structures to save the victims, were killed. All in all, 2,977 people died and a lot more were injured.

Now, it has been sixteen years since the attacks, but for millions of people it still feels like a fresh memory that has changed their lives forever. “Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”1 Obama always cared for the Muslims in America and supported them after the attacks on September 11th, 2001. He talked about the “spirit of unity”, because he wants the people in America to become one strong nation again. Considering Obama`s perspective on Muslims, he meant all the people, including the Muslims that were discriminated after the attacks.

There are a lot of conspiracy theories rising in America due to the facts that have been revealed throughout the past. Most of them say that there was advanced knowledge of the attacks that day among government officials and that there was a controlled explosion rather than structural failure that caused the towers to collapse, but they reject all those accusations. However, this essay will not deal with those theories due to my focus on the impact on U.S. Muslims.

3. History of U.S. Muslims in America

3.1 The beginning of a niche for Muslims in America

There is no specific date, that tells when the first Muslims came to America, but according to the organization History Detectives Special Investigations, Muslims started to move in large numbers around 1878. They came from Syria and Lebanon with the vision of living in a better economy than in their homeland. However, outliving their religion was very difficult and many were even told to become Christians. Through the Great Migration, the African-American Muslims were encouraged to keep up their religion and the African-American Muslim Nationalist Movement was formed, which is still active today. They try to reestablish the cultural values that were devastated during the time of slavery by building mosques and creating close communities. The U.S. did not welcome the Muslims with gratefulness for many years because it was a predominantly Christian country due to the immigrants from Europe.2 Throughout the years, more and more Muslims moved into the U.S. from various places. In accordance to Besheer Mohammed there live about 3.45 million individuals in the United States, which make up 1.1% of the whole population. The Muslims population will reach presumably 8,1 million or 2.1% of the nation`s total population in 2050.3 There were idols like Muhammed Ali, that helped the U.S.-Muslims to gain more confidence. Later, but before the attacks, Muslims did not stand out, but lived just like other citizens in America their own life. Unfortunately, this changed after the attacks of September 11th, 2001, which will be deeply explained in the following.

4. U.S. Muslims after the attacks

4.1 U.S. Muslims lives in the post-9/11 era?

9/11, the event that has changed America enormously and sets a turning point in the country’s history. Today, various years after the disaster, most of the people know how much this day affected the lives of millions U.S. Muslims. The climate for Muslims today is just like it was for Japanese people in America during World War II. They were put in internment camps, so they would not help the Japanese military, fighting the United States. Muslims are treated like an enemy in America with just one difference to the Japanese around 1940: The internment camps today are virtual. “I think for most American Muslim, many of us categorize our lives as pre-9/11 and post-9/11 because of the impact the attack had on our lives in a personal and professional capacity." [3]. Special registration, FBI interrogations and the apparently coincidentally profiling at airports toward Muslims made them feel unsafe and anxious. According to Abdul Malik Mujahid up to 18,000 Muslims were deported and more than 15,000 arrested just based on subjections.4 Those numbers show that people in America wanted to find somebody to plead guilty for the attacks, to use them as the scapegoat for the thousand people who died. Moreover, the media fully supported and spread the idea of the “war on terror”. Sometimes the media tells the people how badly Muslims are treated, but there has been no attempt to improve those conditions emerged from the attacks of 9/11. This case reveals the media´s disinterest in showing about people suffering in the United States just because of differences in religion or national origin. Results are comments like “mass deportation of Muslims” or “they are a fifth column in this country.”. Furthermore, the tragedy impacted the Muslims economically. They suffered a 10% wage reduction and were hired last and fired first regarding the employment. It went even that far, that companies did not accept or consider resumes with names like Muhammad or Ahmed whereas resumes with different names were considered. All in all, Muslims have lost around 40 percent of their impact in American economy.5 Muslims were not only treated different in American economy, but also in different sectors like society. They experienced discrimination, verbal abuse or even physical attacks. People continued to harass and dehumanize Muslims. Terms like “Islamophobia” [4] or “I’m okay with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states.”, [5] from Congressman Mark Kirk only made the tense situation worse. Some U.S. citizens did not want to live next to Muslim people anymore nor have any sort of contact to them because half of Americans believed that they are more willing to promote violence. The government conveyed their repugnance to Muslims by releasing a Muslim liaison from the White House right after the attacks and the most famous Muslim civil rights organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has been forbidden access to the White House. Furthermore, the government banned most of Muslim charities without any investigation.6 This shows that the fear, Muslims must live with after 9/11, has made it easier for the government to tactically break down the civil rights of this minority without breaking the law. Almost 35 million people enter the United States every year and only Muslims have the obligation to register a time ahead. However, this fear was spread through government action, irresponsible media and the harassment of people in America. Considering all these aspects, many Muslims changed their names to avoid difficulties and a lot of Muslims even left the country to life abroad. Not everybody, but some Americans seem to think it is fine to sacrifice people´s liberty, if that means a safe and secure home in America. “The September terrorist attacks were clearly catalytic with regard to the United States` perception of its own security and its relations with the Muslim world.” [6]

4.2 What do Muslims think about their lives in America?

Muslims were treated completely different fifteen years ago. This one day has set the point of a new existence. In America, Muslims changed from being a harmless and non-violent religious minority to one of the most detested one. But there are people who still try to fight and stand up for their religion. Some dedicated their whole live to fight against these prejudices and how 9/11 changed their lives. Students said that everything was different and that nothing would ever be the same after the attacks. Soltani said “That’s when it hit me that life was not going to be the same for me as a Muslim in America as it had ever been before.”7 It went even so far, that people felt like taking of their hijab out of fear for her safety. Furthermore, it made people doubt their faith in their religion. “I wondered what Islam truly taught,” she recalled. “If these people claim to be Muslim and they’re doing these kinds of attacks, do I really want to belong to that religion? I think for Muslims, it was a period of deep introspection ... I thought, if this is a religion that promotes terrorism, I don’t want any part of it.”.8 It was a time, where people were afraid of being Muslims and outliving their rituals. They feared going outside because of Americans who told them to leave the country or make them feel guilty. Abed Ayoub, the national legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington, D.C. said “She spit into my car and told me this isn’t my country and to go home.”9 Incidents like this became part of their daily life. People turned everything the way to make Muslims look bad no matter what and even made jokes about Muslims being terrorists. “I felt publicly humiliated and embarrassed, not for being Muslim, but for being in a place that made me feel like being Muslim was a bad thing.” Not only adults were blamed for being Muslim, but also children were confronted with prejudices. “Why’d you blow up the towers? Stupid Muslims”.10 Such experiences became part of the daily life of a Muslim child. Afterwards, parents told their children before school not to make the others know that you are a Muslim. They did not understand why they should not outlive their religion like they did before, which impacted their lives in a lot of ways. They lost their belief in that what they used to believe in and they started to question why they did believe in a religion they have to hide from now. In security restrictions Muslims were targeted as well. Apparently, the people get pulled out randomly, but TSA agents obviously pulled out Muslims on purpose. Sadeghi-Movahed said “It’s supposedly random, but the only people I know who’ve ended up on it are Muslim and usually Iranian.”.11 Moreover, the attacks caused the Muslims to outlive a “model Muslim”, which is not always easy and does not always feel fair. “Whether we wanted to or not, we were perceived to be the ambassadors of our faith.”12 In public, Muslims felt like being the representation of their faith and their religion even though not every Muslim outlives their religion the same way. Even young children or teenagers who were Muslims could not live the way they want or live like other American kids. “Every day there was that struggle of wanting to be a normal American kid, but I was reminded constantly that I had to be ‘better than average’ or ‘more behaved’ than my friends because of my race and religion.”13 Regarding all those incidents, there are still people who stick up to their beliefs and send a message by not changing their lives. The belief that makes them feel strong is that if they would change their lives, it would just be like admitting that the Muslims are responsible for the attacks on 9/11. “And that couldn’t be further from the truth.” 14

5. The impact of the change in presidency from Obama to Trump

5.1 How did the relations with the Islam change?

Starting with Barack Obama´s words “The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam” at his first speech abroad in 2009, he clearly points out his opinion towards the Muslims in the world. He seeks engagement relying on mutual respect rather than on prejudices to terrorism as well as tightening relations in science, education and business. “It’s easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning.”15 The President often mentions how the Americans and the Muslims share common values and tenets of tolerance and the dignity of every single person in the world. Moreover, he tries to get the Muslims support by praising their achievements and their influence in the daily life of an American. Obama even criticizes his former President George W. Bush´s statement on Americas engagement in the Middle East. Furthermore, he supported wisely chosen Muslim leaders in the Middle East who are were willing to interact with the West. But not everything stayed that way. Muslims and people in the Middle East expected Obama to create a new life for them, give them more opportunities and a better life. In the end of his presidency, people were mad and disappointed about what Obama really accomplished. Considering the situation in America, with everybody being careful with Muslims, Obama did not have an easy presidency, especially because of his thoughts and goals towards Muslims. In contrast to Obama´s emotional and understanding sense for Muslims, Donald Trump clearly states his opinion by calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims”.16 He outlives the fear every Muslim had right after the attacks just in his campaign. Accusing speeches of Trump calling Muslims in America a group of harboring terrorists are just the beginning of his presidency. Somehow, Trump is known for his coursing and insulting towards other people, but looking at Muslims, he clearly exaggerates. He behaves in his speeches or interviews as if there are no Muslims citizens in America. Furthermore, Trump often speaks from a “we” and a “them”, referring to Americans and Muslims. All in all, the Muslims really face a difficult time in America, regarding the beginning of Trump´s campaign with all his repugnance and harassment expressing through speeches, interviews or actions.


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7 (29.02.2018)










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The impact of 9/11 on US Muslims
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Nicolas Görres (Author), 2018, The impact of 9/11 on US Muslims, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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