More Listening, Less Shouting: Islamophobia, a Muslim American Perspective.
As part of our series on Islamophobia in America and as the controversy over the Ground Zero Mosque Islamic Cultural Center continues, I asked an American Muslim, living in New York City her thoughts on the “mosque” controversy, the treatment of American Muslims since 9/11, and whether projects like the Islamic Cultural Center can begin to bridge the gap between the false perceptions of Islam and the reality. I have omitted her name in order to protect her privacy. I have not changed the content of her responses because I think her responses should remain unfiltered.
Q: As a Muslim American how have you been treated since 9/11? Did you have any personal experiences with xenophobia in the aftermath of the attacks?
A: 9/11 marked the moment when Muslims moved from being the ‘other’ to the ‘feared other’. I live in New York City and have not had any personal experiences with xenophobia, but we have witnessed a shocking rise in hysteria and fear mongering. A Time Magazine poll this week showed nearly 50% of Americans hold negative opinions of Islam and many don’t even know a Muslim. Even other groups, such as Sikh and Hindus, have suffered hate crimes due to being mistaken as Muslims.
I have a Sikh friend who cut his hair after 9/11 for fear of hate crimes. I also know that travel changed that day for my brother and countless other brown men with Arab sounding names. I remember the first time my brother and I traveled together after 9/11 – the agent was all smiles with me – but her smile vanished as soon as she saw that my brother had Mohammed in his name. I felt very bad for my brother that day.
Q: What are your feelings generally with regards to the building of the Islamic Cultural Center Park 51?