Sohail believed that because this incident happened -- and because it reflects negatively on the image of Muslims -- "…all the Muslim people in America will be driven out. This has happened in reality," he asserted. "This is obvious. This happened, and it is happening now" (Rousseau, 167). Some of those interviewed in Karachi expressed "intense pain and anger at the injustice of the aftereffects on Pakistanis and Muslims" following 9/11.
The authors expressed some surprise at the substance of the interviews, not so much that the Muslims blamed the U.S. For the attacks, but that the immigrants in Montreal and the more middle class and well-educated Muslims in Karachi shared the same litany. It says a great deal about the anger against the U.S. that was expressed in 2008, and likely remains even today. Needless to say the death of Osama bin Laden had not happened yet, but it certainly would have been extremely interesting to hear what the Muslims in Karachi would have to say about Navy SEALS coming in to Pakistan to take out the most high-visibility terrorist in the world.
Fear and Terror and Hatred for America
Meanwhile Bill Durodie writes about "Fear and Terror in a Post-Political Age" in the journal Government and Opposition. According to Durodie, it may be "unpalatable or unpleasant to recall or recognize that a significant number of people" -- not all of them members of the Islamic faith -- "were not that saddened to see the Twin Towers in New York going down" (Durodie, 2007, p. 434). There is a sense in the world community -- at least in the opinion of Durodie -- that "America had it coming" and that that view is "widespread in some supposedly respectable quarters" (435). Why is there such hatred for the United States, such that it would lead to smiles as the World Trade Center went down in a colossal crash that killed nearly 3,000?
Durodie explains that "American consumerism is now widely viewed with contempt and hence the Muslims in Karachi and Montreal aren't alone in seeing American in a very negative light. If a writer like Durodie, who is an associate fellow with the International Security Programme (at Chatham House, a think-tank in the UK), believes that American ambition has become portrayed as "arrogant" and "selfish, and if in his esteemed opinion American is presenting itself as a nation where "egotism" trumps freedom, it makes one understand the antipathy Muslims the world over feel towards the United States. But it doesn't really explain why it has to be this way, given that change has always been a part of human history.
Discrimination and Fear Among Arab-Americans
An article in the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development points out how the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 has had an affect on Arab-Americans. First of all the authors point out that the majority of Arab-Americans are not Muslim and many of these individuals are second and third generations in the United States. And so even though the fact of ethic discrimination against Arab-Americans did exist to some degree prior to September 11, subsequent to those terrorist attacks being an Arab-American has for many in that culture meant an ethno-national identity problem.
What is a good definition of "ethnic identity"? Sylvia Nassar-McMillan and colleagues explain that it means strong identification and "pride" with the country of one's origin and not necessarily with the "new host culture." For Arab-Americans, their history in the West has been "embedded within a troubled relationship between Arab and Western societies" that creates tension and results in feeling like they are not really part of America, Nassar-McMillan explains. And when there is an act of terrorism by Arab extremists against America, the Arab-Americans experience "heightened acts of profiling and discrimination" and as a result some of those Arab-Americans will become involved in "social justice initiatives" but others may become "embittered and further disenfranchised" (Nassar-McMillan, 2011, p. 38).
Examining the way in which Arab-Americans were treated following the terrorist acts of 9/11 gives a clear picture of why so many Arab-Americans are bitter and feel they have been unfairly signed out because extremist Arabs choose to use violence to make their points. To wit, preliminary data collected by the Arab-American Institute shows that 30% of those interviewed reported "past discrimination"; 31% reported discrimination against them in the workplace; 78% reported that they had been profiled since 9/11; and 40% were asked to self-disclose their Arab ethnicity (Nassar-McMillan, p. 40).
But moreover, the Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit that keeps tabs on racism, discrimination and unlawful detention of innocent people, reported a "1,700% increase in hate and bias crimes against Arabs and Muslims" (Nassar-McMillan, p. 40).
The authors of this research article cooperated with the Arab-American Instituted and Zogby International to interview 1,513 participants on the telephone. These were Arab-Americans but only 35.97% were Muslim (52.15% were Christians); and they were all asked four questions about discrimination based on their perceived ethno-national identity.
The results of the survey showed that on average, the participants had "at least one or two" experiences that were defiantly discriminatory (Nassar-McMillian, 44). Many reported being discriminated against after the terrorist attacks (albeit the researchers don't know for sure how much discrimination they had withstood before 9/11) and with regard to the fear of a backlash after the attacks, most participants were "somewhat worried" they would continue to experience ethnic bias against them.
In conclusion, it is a sad state of affairs when an entire religious / ethnic group feels that they are not respected in a country where they have lived and worked in peace for generations. It is also somewhat astonishing that Muslims in Canada and in Pakistan actually believe that America conducted the attacks in New York and Washington D.C. In 2001. On the other hand, the world is a very different place than it was around the end of the Cold War, and the hatred against the United States by Muslims around the world shows no signs of fading away. What can be done? Since there will be terrorists out there bent on killing Americans, and they will very probably be of Arab ethnicity, citizens of good will in the U.S. must refrain from generalizing and stereotyping Arab-Americans -- and above all good hearted people must work to educate others that peace begins at home and discrimination is the wrong path to take.
Baldaccini, Anneliese. "Counter-Terrorism and the EU Strategy for Border Security: Framing
Suspects with Biometric Documents and Databases." European Journal of Migration and Law, 10.1 (2008): 31-49.
Durodie, Bill. "Fear and Terror in a Post-Political Age." Government and Opposition, 42.3
Nassar-McMillan, Sylvia C., Lambert, Richard G., and Hakim-Larson, Julie. "Discrimination…