After the effects of the terrorist attack on September 11, most nations have seen dramatic increases in bias motivated violence against Muslims and those apparent to be Muslim. Predicated on the long lived criticism of Muslims by the media especially, such violence is an irrational reminder of Muslims’ outsider status. This paper begins such a discussion of the little attention that has been paid to the particular subject of how these anti-Muslim hate crimes are brainwashing our view towards Muslims, the consequences and stereotype it has on those who are Muslims.
Hate Crime Against Muslims After 9/11 and its Consequences
Muslims were strongly affected by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Not only were they emotionally stunned and wounded like the rest of the world, but, unlike other communities, they became targets of discrimination and harassment within the first 9 weeks following 9/11 (Eggen, 2003; Singh, 2002). Today Muslims still suffer with the amount of stereotype and discrimination that are thrown at them on the everyday basis such as employment discrimination, bullying, harassment and profiling. In addition, places of worship have been vandalized and attacked including the burn out of a mosque in Texas which it will be cited later on this paper.
Although there are multiple finds that correlates with the hate crimes against Muslims and its consequences, further research is needed in such subject that might shed light on both the limitations and contributions of the current study among men and women that includes a larger and more representative sample as well as multiple studies regarding hate crimes.
Prior to the terrorist attack in New York City on September 11, 2001, Muslims were not normally recognized as common targets of racially or religiously motivated violence. In the US, for example, they were far surpassed by violence directed toward African Americans, Latinos and Jews. Yet that has changed since 9/11 with an immediate reaction. In the US, within 24 hours of the attacks, as many as eight homicides were attributed to racially motivated, reactionary violence. Most major cities experienced a rash of hate crime, ranging in seriousness from verbal abuse to graffiti and vandalism to arson and murder. By September 18, 2001, the FBI was investigating more than 40 possible hate crimes thought to be related to the terrorist attacks; by October 3, they were investigating more than 90; the number had leapt to 145 by October 11. The Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California reported 800 cases nationwide by mid-October, and the ADC (American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee) had recorded over 1100 such offenses by mid-November.
The foundations of anti-Muslim violence are the invocation of negative images and stereotypes associated with Muslims. The slogans that often accompany the violence Go home?’ You are not American!’ reveal a strong sense of Islamophobia along with a similarly strong desire for revenge. Thus, while the current movement of anti-Muslim violence clearly was motivated by anger and outrage at the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it is also informed by a broader history and culture that supports anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and anti-Middle East sentiments. Muslims and Arabs in general have a long, if largely unknown, history of defamation, violence, and non-violent discrimination in the US. Moreover, the past and current patterns are nested in a range of cultural and political practices that enable the hostility to fester, and violence to result. Primary among the motivating forces shaping bias-motivated violence generally are ideologies and images that mark the other, and the boundaries between self and other, in such a way as to normalize the corresponding inequalities. It is within the cultural realm that we find the justifications for these inequalities. For it is this body of discourse which articulates the relations of superiority/inferiority, establishing a hospitable environment for openly racist activity. Stereotypes which distinguish the racialized other from white subjects are thus stuck in what are held to be the identifying features of racial minorities. They help to distance white from non-white. Here white’ may be a metaphor for western or non Third-World-looking’, rather than a matter of skin pigmentation or other such phenotype (Hage, 1998). The latter are to be feared, ridiculed, and loathed for their difference as recognized in the popular psyche. Almost invariably, the stereotypes are loaded with disapproving associations, suggesting inferiority, irresponsibility, immorality, and nonhumanness, for example. Consequently, they provide both motive and rationale for injurious verbal and physical assaults on minority groups. Acting upon these interpretations allows dominant group members to recreate whiteness as superiority, while punishing the other for their presumed traits and behaviors. The active construction of whiteness, then, exploits stereotypes to justify violence.
Hate Crimes Post 9/11
The murder of two Samaritans for aiding two young women who were facing a barrage of anti-Muslim slurs on a Portland, Oregon, train is among the latest examples of shameless acts of anti-Islamic hatred. Earlier in 2017, a mosque in Victoria, Texas, was burned to the ground by an alleged anti-Muslim bigot. In 2016, members of a small extremist group called The Crusaders plotted a bombing bloodbath at a residential housing complex for Somali-Muslim immigrants in Garden City, Kansas. With only these two examples of hate crime, it is possible to acknowledge the serious effect that 9/11 created after the terrorist attack. According to FBI data, it is cited that in 2015 there were 257 hate crimes against Muslims, making it the highest level since 2001 and a surge of 67% over the previous year. According to a USA Today Gallup Poll (Saad, 2006), 40% of Americans admitted to being prejudiced toward Muslims, almost a quarter (22%) would not like to have a Muslim neighbor, 31% would feel nervous if they noticed a Muslim man on their flight, and 18% would feel nervous flying on the same plane with a Muslim woman. One study found that Arab Americans experienced higher prejudice encounters than African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans (Bushman & Bonacci, 2004).
Consequences of Hate Crimes Against Muslims Post 9/11
The persistent race-based stress encountered by Arabs and Muslims in the United States, many of whom migrated from countries with brutal authoritarian governments marked by violence and oppression (Singh, 2002), may place them at increased risk for PTSD and other negative mental health outcomes. In a study which the goal was to examine whether the experience of discrimination, hate crimes, feelings of safety in the United States before and after 9/11, and any experiences of life changes, contribute to PTSD symptoms among New York City Muslim Americans post 9/11, Abu-Ras & Abu-Bader (2009) found that post 9/11, 62% of Arab and Muslim participants scored between 16 and 48 on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale, with 16 indicating clinical depressive symptoms and 60 being the highest score possible. In another example, a rare pilot study of Arab American women’s experiences of discrimination, 87% of the sample of 30 reported trauma due to general disaster, which overwhelmingly consisted of war and military occupation (Hassouneh & Kulwicki, 2007). Despite the small sample, this finding stands in noticeable contrast to findings from past trauma studies of the general population, where war experience is mostly absent from histories of trauma (Tolin & Foa, 2006). The vast majority of the participants reported posttraumatic symptoms as a result of 9/11. About 94% of participants reported physical or emotional symptoms, such as increased arousal, 94.1% reported anger as a reaction to the attacks; 68.6% reported difficulty falling or staying asleep; 79.4% reported fatigue and exhaustion; 70.6% had problems with concentration, and 48% had problems with decision making.
Limitations and Future Research
The ongoing trauma experienced by Muslims and stereotypes faced daily, might be a cause why very few Muslims seek help causing implications for future research. What it has to be analyzed is to first highlight the importance of looking at differences between men and women’s reactions to stress/racial violence when it comes to hate crimes post 9/11. The fear of revenge had a greater impact on women than actual experiences of harassment did on men (Amer, Mona, 2013). This suggests that even Muslim women who have not been victims of racial harassment may be in need of psychological help or preventive services. When doing research and in practice, it is important to look at differences between subethnic groups, because non-Arabs might respond differently to post 9/11 stressors as well undocumented Muslims immigrants or first generation Muslims in America. More research needs to be conducted to explore the relationship between day-to-day race-based stresses among different subgroups of Muslims, and the collective impact of racial harassment over time.