Twelve years after the September 11th attacks, we wanted to take this chance to revisit stories told from the perspective of Muslim communities and other communities of color dealing with the event. First, this episode of the Ask A Muslim webseries posted last year, in which Imam Murad Abdul-Zahir breaks down the backlash against Muslims following the attacks: “Anyone even resembling a Muslim were attacked and came under a lot of scrutiny.”
“They called you racist. They called you terrorist,” she explains. “I was still a child. I barely understood the words and I would ask my parents … My mom almost had her scarf pulled off in an elevator.”
There’s also this story by Amenah, a Staten Island resident, about her experience after telling classmates she was making her pilgrimage to Mecca:
“I remember distinctly that the boy who was behind me had remarks for me not to bring a bomb back,” Amenah says. “I remember that the whole class had heard his remark, and that nobody had said anything.”
But to end on a positive note, let’s also revisit this video by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) — particularly the young student featured around the :52 mark: “It’s time we raise our voices and return to our ideals — of an America that is open to diversity, accepts varied viewpoints, protects the rights of all and is tolerant of differences.”
Changez (Riz Ahmed) falls under the tutelage of Jim (Kiether Sutherland) in “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.” Image via IFC Films.
When Mira Nair set out to make a film about post-9/11 New York City, her aim was simple, though her approach was not. The India-born director already had several noteworthy titles under her belt, including 1991’s Mississippi Masala, 2001’s Monsoon Wedding, and 2006’s epic coming-of-age story starring Kal Penn, The Namesake — and yet, she was still finding trouble getting the industry behind her latest project.
“When I approached people with my idea, I was told that I would have to make the film at most for $2 million because I had a Muslim protagonist, and I should just shoot it in Rockaway [Queens],” she told the audience at a Tribeca Talks event opposite Bryce Dallas Howard at last month’s Tribeca Film Festival. “[So] I didn’t go to the studios. And the trouble is, we only think there’s one way. But there isn’t. There are many other ways. But they’re damned difficult.”
“I have this weird thing with rejection,” Nair continued with a laugh. “I just want to prove them wrong.”
According to The Associated Press, Shoshana Hebshi and two men were detained and questioned after the crew on their Frontier Airlines flight “reported suspicious activity on board.”
Hebshi, an Ohio resident who identifies as half-Jewish and half-Arab, wrote on her blog that she was sitting with two Indian men from Detroit when the flight was first diverted to a different part of the tarmac, then boarded by armed personnel. She and the two men were subsequently “pushed off the plane” and detained. Hebshi wrote that she asked, “What’s going on?” but did not get an answer. Continue reading →
September 11th is often remembered as one of those moments where we all came together as Americans in response to a horrific attack on our nation’s soil. However, the truth is more complicated. The enduring legacy of racism prevents many people from being considered as full Americans, and the years after the attack were marred with prejudice and hatred toward American citizens who were suddenly marked as different. We spend this day in remembrance, not only for those who performed everyday acts of heroism, and not only for those who lost their lives, but also remembering the way in which Americans have failed each other – for allowing an attack from terrorists to call into question our ideals as a nation. We may have lost the Twin Towers, but we did not lose who we are.
So, in true American fashion, we will continue to fight to be heard, ensuring that everyone’s American story is told.
Since many people were caught in the wave of backlash and discrimination post-9/11, the Sikh Coalition asked people to send in their videos about how discrimination has impacted their lives.
Shawn Singh talks about how suddenly, post 9/11, it impacted his understanding of his Sikh Identity:
Kevin Harrington talked about discriminatory treatment at the New York City Transit Authority – despite the fact that he helped to evacuate people on 9/11, Harrington was approached in 2004 and told he could not continue working in passenger service because of his turban:
Rabia Said remembers being 8 years old and being told by a pastor and by the police that her clothing was why she was targeted racial profiling:
At the dawn of the Latin alt burst in 1998, a Newsweek cover story announced “Se Habla Rock and Roll? You Will Soon,” and a year later the New York Times predicted Latin alternative was “Approaching Its Final Border.” But by 2005, the Los Angeles Times’ Agustin Gurza compared the Latin boom to an exploding rocket that breaks apart halfway into orbit.
But no matter how many times Mexico’s Café Tacuba held court in front of the gentle mosh pits of Irving Plaza, or local bands such as Los Amigos Invisibles proved that funk, pop, disco, salsa, merengue and occasional bouts of thrash metal could hold everyone together on the dance floor, there was something missing. The energy that came from Latin America, which had produced most of the significant bands, was not duplicated in American cities.
Latin alternative settled back into a niche accessed by the mainstream only in a rare NPR moment, while driving to New England to see the fall foliage. [Ricky] Martin has settled into life as a father; Shakira reinvents herself as part-stripper, part-philanthropist; [Marc] Anthony got a gig playing a cop on TV; and J-Lo, well, you know where she is.
How did this happen? Certainly the immediate atmosphere after the 9/11 attacks was characterized by the mainstream’s distancing from cultures from outside its borders. Although the decade began with Barnes and Noble and other booksellers offering extensive selections of books in Spanish, by its end more and more politicians called for English to be the country’s official language. And earlier this year, the Grammy awards dropped 31 categories, including Latin jazz and traditional world music.
Reader Elvira asked why we haven’t opened up a thread about the proposed mosque and Islamic Cultural Center to be erected a few blocks away from New York’s Ground Zero location.
So, here is one.
Our take on this shouldn’t even be necessary because any person who pays attention to the situation logically would realize a few key things:
1. The existence of a mosque/cultural center is not an endorsement of terrorism.
2. American Muslims should not be forced to suffer for the sins of others.
3. Historically, this kind of fearmongering ends badly.
Here’s the link to the ADL’s tepidly worded plea to nobly suffer this kind of religious suppression in the name of “healing.”
Here’s Al-Jeezera’s story, which provides a quote from Mayor Bloomberg, saying “But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves, and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans, if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan.
Here’s the Huffington Post, with a reminder that the mosque/cultural center is a few blocks away from the actual site, and there were dozens of Muslims who perished in the attacks, who also deserve to be remembered.