American Muslims deserve empathy

Elisabeth Martin, Campus Carrier Features Editor

Each year on September 11, throughout my childhood and my public education, I spent the day parked in front of a television showing footage of planes crashing into the Twin Towers in New York City. The September 11 attacks are forever etched in our minds as a permanent part of our history as Americans. However, the narrative I never heard in my classroom was that of American Muslim communities, and that’s a shame.

Consider the 10-year-old Muslim students that returned to a classroom on September 12, only to be called terrorists by their friends. Think about the “Osama”s who are now “Sam”s because they feared the reaction their names would get. Acknowledge the fact that the hate crime rate against Muslims is five times higher now than it was before September 11, 2001, according to the FBI.

Think about the Muslim women who have chosen not to wear hijab because they feared the harassment that would come with such an outward expression of their religion.

Consider the instances in which fellow citizens and public figures have burned the Quran as a statement against Islamic extremism, without regard to the millions of American Muslims who mourn alongside their Christian neighbors.

American Muslim communities deal with the effects of the anti-Muslim narrative that began after the 9/11 attacks every single day. Policies such as the Patriot Act made it possible to search private records and detain people in the name of fighting terrorism, but also unjustly targeted Muslim communities. Groups that promote fear of Muslim religious practice (known as Sharia) used the anti-Sharia movement to limit the religious liberty of an entire group. However, there is nothing violent or dangerous about Sharia.

Religious literacy is important. Knowing the difference between fact and fear is important. American Muslims continue to suffer from 9/11 the same way that all Americans do, but in addition, they face discrimination and hate that most cannot even imagine. They deserve our empathy. The American Muslim narrative is one worth listening to.

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