In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the shock of the terrorist attacks changed the face of the world and the lives of Arab and Muslim immigrants in this country, which has always considered itself the embrace of immigrants from all sides, who participated in and built it over the decades.
Here through this piece, many questions have been raised about the issue of how Muslim Americans life is?
Did these attacks have a specific impact on Arab Americans compared to other minorities?
What is the impact of these attacks on their daily lives and the way others deal with them?
Do they feel today at home, or has their isolation increased after some blamed them, explicitly, sometimes, for these historical attacks?
Through several testimonies dedicated to the French state-owned international news television network (France 24), several Arab immigrants spoke about how their life is after 20 years of 9/11 attacks
In Brooklyn, one of the most prominent neighborhoods in New York City,
Some people who lived through this period and still remember the feelings and behavior that accompanied the attacks considered them hostile, while the matter was different for others who found some tolerance.
Can people go back in their memories twenty years back to talk about what followed the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the development of their situation in the United States after this event?
Hamad Zaid, a 55-year-old Palestinian-origin food merchant, who has lived in this neighborhood for more than thirty years, says, “Today peace prevails in this country where the law is the criterion.” The Palestinian merchant, who sips his coffee carefully, according to his interview with “France24) admits that “the first days after the September 11 attacks were difficult.
“We lived in psychological distress, but no one was exposed to the other. I did not feel discrimination.” He said.
He added, “Here, in the United States, the culprit is only held accountable for his mistake, and other relatives and friends are not responsible for what he committed. Therefore, we have not been subjected to any kind of harassment after these events, which it is time to put an end to.”
An opinion that does not stray far from that of Bassam, who owes the United States a lot, as he put it during his interview with (France 24).
He also confirms that he does not forget where he came from and the conditions in which he was living before achieving the dream of immigrating to the US.
The harassment after the attacks was not caused by the authorities
Bassam Mustafa, an American of Palestinian origin in his mid-fifties who has lived in the United States since 1993, says, “In the United States, we enjoy democracy. This country adopted us despite our cultural and ethnic differences and provided us with what we did not find in our countries.”
The harassment that some Arab or Muslim groups were subjected to as a result of these attacks did not originate from the US authorities. Rather, they are only marginalized groups in US society. They responded immediately, after these “unfortunate” attacks, which we have overcome today, and which “we do not know the whole truth about.”
The impact of this event on us today in our daily lives is negligible. On the contrary, the United States today protects minorities and Muslims from verbal attacks based on race.
Rabaa, a young American woman of Yemeni origin, does not share the same opinions with the rest, as 9/11 was an event that radically changed her life, and its consequences continue to this day. She saw the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers in Manhattan live in Brooklyn, and when she remembers her father’s advice not to wear the Islamic headscarf on the street for a while following the attacks.
What we have experienced since September 11th is not easy, and the specter of attacks always haunts us, she said in her interview with (France24).
Rabaa remembers well how the September 11 attacks put Arab Americans under tremendous pressure.
According to her, feelings of hostility against Arabs and Muslims did not wait for the attacks of “Al-Qaeda” to affect this category of immigrants who turned their faces towards the United States for decades in the hope of life better.
“The whole world has changed since 9/11. We’ve been in two wars, and the Middle East is in chaos today. For Arab Americans, a lot has changed too, that’s for sure. I remember, after the attacks, when I went to a store to buy a costume to celebrate Halloween,” Rabea says. They had among the costumes offered for sale the costume of an “Arab terrorist”.
Can you imagine what it feels like for a little girl to find an “Arab terrorist” costume among the Halloween costumes? , She raises a question.
Today, Rabaa Al-Dhibani serves as a”political advisor”, providing services specifically to Democratic candidates who are campaigning in the Bay Ridge neighborhood where she still lives.
She previously provided her services to the famous Democrat Bernie Sanders, who is also a Brooklyn son, as she joined his campaign team to represent the Arab and Muslim voice.
She also oversees the Arab Women’s Voice Foundation, which she launched in April 2019.
The 37-year-old Yemeni woman adds to (France 24), “The events of September prompted me to engage in political activity, which I continue to this day against my will. I organized the first initiative to light candles in the Brooklyn Promenade a week after the September attacks and nearly a thousand people participated in this.
The differing views of this group of Americans about the consequences of the September 11 attacks on their daily lives, twenty years after their occurrence, reflects a vacancy between generations convinced that the United States is still the largest country that embraces immigrants in history and allows them to realize the “American dream”.
A recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research before the anniversary of 9/11 found that 53% of Americans today have unfavorable views of Islam, compared to 42% who have opposite views.
A position that differs from the views of Americans on Christianity and Judaism, which most of the respondents expressed positive views of these two religions. Noting that mistrust and suspicion of Muslims did not appear with the September 11 attacks, but the attacks intensified those hostilities significantly.
Vice President Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, stated that Muslim Americans were subjected to targeting, violence, discrimination, and racist practices after the events of September 11, 2001.
Harris stressed that American citizens stood by their Muslim brothers who were subjected to violence at that time, noting that humanity is what unites the United States.
She added that the events of September 11 remind everyone that the diversity that exists in America is the source of its strength.
She pointed out that the September 11 attack reminds everyone that unity is imperative for prosperity and strengthening the security position of the United States in the world, stressing that using the method of terror is wrong.
The September 11 terrorist attacks, this event that was the beginning of wide global changes that included all countries, and with the passage of 18 years since these events, a whole and different generation in the United States of America did not live through any of the events of September 11, but certainly lived its various effects, How did this generation receive post-9/11 thought, and how was its world affected by these events?
Jordan Browder is too young to remember the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but she remembers growing up believing that the blame for the attacks was placed “straight on Muslims,” an indictment that continues to haunt some people in the towns where she grew up, in south-central Illinois, according to her words to the US Daily Herald Newspaper.
“Everything about this incident was subliminal to me,” said Browder, sophomore studying business and political sciences at Lincolnland Community College in Springfield.
She added that she began the process of reorientation – “self-discovery” – by speaking with her parents, Eric Browder, a middle school history teacher, as well as doing her research on 9/11 to better understand the situation rather than assigning permanent blame to Muslims.
Paige Calvert, a student from Peking at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said she only knows about terrorist attacks from what she hears in family conversations, from what she learned at school, and “for someone born less than eight months before 9/11, the events” seem It’s a distant historical moment.”
Caroline Beck, a professor of psychology at the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, weaves the events of 9/11 into a study, encouraging students with no memory of it to understand the true scale of this monumental event.
Beck relies for her study on recounting interviews with 9/11 survivors, saying that seeing those interviews with survivors or relatives of those who died that day compels students, most of whom were born after this bombing, to pay attention to history lessons”.
She added: “We look at what has changed since 9/11 through our understanding of the Bill of Rights, freedom of expression, freedom of information. I think they know it has changed, but they don’t know what it was before, so it’s hard for them to feel.”
According to another report published by the Center for American Progress, the 9/11 attacks are the most significant impact on the attitudes and beliefs of millennials.
Civil Liberties and Security
The research, prepared by Eleni Townes, associate researcher at The Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, indicated that in the ten years since 9/11, America justified, in the name of security, the restriction of civil liberties, and thus this generation lived most of its adult life in this world amid security measures growing.
Opening up to other cultures
The report pointed out that fear or anger did not cause isolation for the generation born after the events of September 11, on the contrary, these events made young people more eager to interact with other cultures.
Despite this, since the eleventh of September, attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have become more negative, but at the same time efforts have increased to increase knowledge of the Islamic religion as well, and millennials have become less accepting of the first trend and more involved in the second trend.
The research showed that during the years after 9/11, anti-Islam sentiment rose, but now younger Americans are more sensitive to this unequal treatment of Muslims.
According to Pew Research Center‘s survey conducted recently, younger people are also the most knowledgeable about Muslims and Islam and the most tolerant of religious diversity and immigrants in general.
Between 2000 and 2005 alone, as the number of undergraduate courses on Islam and Hinduism nearly doubled, religion departments expanded across the country from the University of Texas to Ohio and Georgia.
Hence, millennials, despite or in response to the 9/11 attacks, are more eager than their predecessors to interact with other cultures directly, and some have embraced opportunities to become a more cosmopolitan generation.
Millennials communicate with cultures abroad; this is what the previous study concluded.
More millennials are studying abroad compared to previous generations, and interest in non-traditional destinations has increased, something that was not limited only to the children of the 2000s and post-9/11 generation, but to children or the teenagers at the time of the bombings.
Scholarships for foreign languages also varied. Due to federal government incentive programs and a general increase in curiosity, more students are learning Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu.
In response to the Cold War, government-supported language studies drove 30,000 or more American college students to Russian language courses each year. Accordingly, the study of the Arabic language is another goal for students of the American community in light of the desire to open up to the Middle East, North Africa, and the Islamic world, which number 1.2 billion people.
The different view of the millennial generation of other cultures, including Islam, gives us an indication of what will lead to future US policy crafted by current US millennials who will define new ways on how to view the Islamic world, specifically the countries of the Arab world.