9/11 Memorial
(Deccio Serrano/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

Muslim Americans Experience a Wave of Islamophobic Attacks Following 20th Anniversary of 9/11

On what should have been a day of reflection and solidarity marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorism attacks on our nation, some Americans once again decided it was more important to turn to hate by harassing and attacking their fellow man.

NBC News’ Sakshi Venkatraman has reported that “as the 20th anniversary of 9/11 passed Saturday, Muslim Americans braced for what community leaders said happens every year around this time: a wave of hate and overt Islamophobia.”

In Texas, bigots left a bloodied pig mask and a threatening sign outside the Islamic Center of Greater Austin and Austin Peace Academy. The vile sign staked in the front lawn of the mosque read: “You are as unclean to God as a pig is to you.” The Austin Police Department is currently investigating the case as vandalism, saying they need more evidence before the incident can be considered a hate crime.

In Grand Blanc, Michigan, a community mosque called the Grand Blanc Islamic Center was vandalized, with its welcome sign defaced and numerous lighting fixtures around the building smashed.

On a Spirit Airlines flight from Atlanta to Detroit, a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab named Aicha Toure was allegedly assaulted by a white female passenger. The woman reportedly called Toure a “Muslim terrorist” and said other racist things to her during the assault. Toure was able to record the woman, who was also harassing another older South Asian woman during the flight. The white woman was later arrested in Wayne County.

In Maryland, a young Muslim boy was bullied by his teacher and peers, who reportedly asked him if he and his family were responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Those are just a few of the anti-Muslim incidents reported to authorities in the days leading up to and following the 9/11 anniversary — and unfortunately, they don’t appear to be going away any time soon.

“These kinds of crimes affect families, communities and our entire nation,” Zainab Chaudry, a director with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in an interview with NBC News.

According to Chaudry, “the post-9/11 landscape for Muslims in the U.S. has been brutal. CAIR recently reported that a vast majority of Muslims have experienced discrimination since the 2001 attacks. Additionally, a 2020 survey showed a sharp decline in Muslim American satisfaction with the country after former President Donald Trump took office in 2017.”

As one might expect, 9/11 is a difficult day for many Muslim Americans as it is also the day when most of the attacks and hate crimes occur.

“Some Muslims take off from work; others plan so they won’t have to leave home that day,” Chaudry said. “Parents have confided they keep their children home from school, while many mosques step up security measures.”

For children, she added, the results can be especially brutal and impactful.

“This kind of scapegoating and harassment can have a lasting impact into adulthood,” Chaudry said. “Every student is entitled to a safe learning environment.”

Similar to discriminatory attacks against the LGBTQ community and the racist attacks against the AAPI community, harassment and assaults against Muslim Americans are also vastly underreported, with many fearful of coming forward to authorities because they are concerned about additional assaults.

“A significant disparity exists between hate incidents that occur and those that are reported to law enforcement,” Chaudry said. “It’s important to report them not only, so victims and survivors are able to receive adequate support through their ordeal, but also so they are prosecuted properly, and justice is served.”

For more information on the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the work they do, or to report or seek out assistance in dealing with an anti-Muslim hate crime, visit CAIR.com.

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

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