19 Years Later, Muslim Students Still Impacted by Post-9/11 Islamaphobia

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Thousands of protesters gathered at JFK airport in New York City Saturday in protest of people detained under Trump’s executive order. Stephanie Keith/Getty

Jackson Newman

Nearly two decades after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, the repercussions of the non-muslim American sentiment is still being felt by Muslim families and communities across the country. Whether it be from the President’s comments, or verbal and physical abuse from strangers on the street, the general Muslim disposition towards the United States government’s policies and its people grow more and more distant.

 

In a 2017 survey by the Pew Research Center, 75 percent of Muslims living in the United States agree that there is serious discrimination against people of their religion in the country, with 48 percent saying they’ve experienced at least one incident of discrimination in the last year. 68 percent of Muslims say that the President and his policies worry them, and 50 percent say that being a Muslim in the United States has gotten more difficult over the years. According to the FBI, hate crimes against muslims are approximately five times more frequent than they were before 2001.

 

In an interview with Dalia Daaboul, a Muslim-American student attending Little Rock Central High School, she explained her and her family’s experiences living in the United States post 9/11.

 “Me and my Muslim friends have experienced quite a lot of islamaphobia just for being Muslim. We have been called ‘terrorists.’”

 The holy phrase “allahu akbar” is often thrown around as a joke, or as an insult to Muslims –when translated to English, it simply means “God is great”. It is used as an expression of faith in both times of distress, and to celebrate each other’s accomplishments.  “I’ve been told it means ‘Death to America’ by countless people who aren’t Muslim,” explains Daaboul. “Allahu Akbar is how Muslims begin each prayer five times a day. It’s an extremely uplifting and important phrase.”

 

Daaboul’s father lived in New York right before 9/11 and his life was greatly affected as well. “He left a couple of hours earlier to go to Syria, his hometown, but if he wasn’t traveling across the world, he would’ve been right there in New York,” says Daaboul. “On his flight back, he was treated with discrimination because of his name, Muhammed. He was glared at and disrespected.” 

 

Daaboul continues, “The months following 9/11 were frightening.” “And it scared Muslims to leave their homes. Leaving home with a hijab on could have one murdered. Islamophobia is now normalized. The act of 9/11 is against the Quran… The terrorists that participated in 9/11 are not Muslims, but murderers.”

 

However, Daaboul believes that tolerance will approve with future generations. “Life has become more difficult; most of my family are refugees from Syria that came to Egypt. But I have hope that within the next generation, [we can] tear down the islamophobia and educate everyone about the peaceful religion that is Islam.”