American Muslims 17 years after 9/11
17 years after 9/11 terrorist attacks, American Muslims remain on the receiving end since 9/11/2001 but their plight has taken a new twist under President Donald Trump whose anti-Muslim policies alarmingly fomented hate crimes against them. According to a report released in July by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization,anti-Muslim bias incidents and hate crimes are up 83 and 21 percent respectively, as compared to the first quarter of 2018.
Tellingly, incidents involving government agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, have also risen by 60 percent in this time period. For the second quarter of 2018, CAIR received 1006 reports of potential bias incidents, with 431 of these reports determined to contain an identifiable element of anti-Muslim bias.
Under President Donald Trump, the United States government has shown an “unprecedented level of government hostility” toward the Muslim religious minority in the country. Apparently, Trump is sending a green light for average people to mistreat Muslims. Consequently, many Americans view Muslims in the United States as insufficiently “American,” and almost 20 percent would deny Muslim citizens the right to vote.
It will not be too much to say that Islamophobia has entered the government. It is incorporated into the law, and becomes increasingly acceptable in America.Apparently, Muslims in America are more vulnerable to bigotry and Islamophobia as a result of President Donald Trump’s behavior and actions than they were after the 9/11 attacks.
The level of anxiety and apprehension was such a high level that many Muslims were fearful to public display signs of their faith. A number of Muslim women, for instance, were deciding not to appear in public wearing the scarf. Alarmingly, a Hijab-clad Muslim woman stabbed in Texas by two white males.
As Sophia McClennen of Salon pointed out,the month of June 2018 was an especially bad month for the seven-million Muslims in America. First, a new study of U.S. perceptions of Muslim Americans conducted by Dalia Mogahed and John Sides for the Voter Study Groupshowed that many Americans view Muslims in the United States as insufficiently “American,” and almost 20 percent would deny Muslim citizens the right to vote.
The Muslim Ban 3.0
Then in June, the Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s decision to institute a ban on immigrants, refugees and visa holders from five majority-Muslim countries in a 5-4 decision. This is known as Muslim Ban 3.0 since it was the third iteration of the Muslim Ban.
The synergy of these two pieces of information is critical because it reveals a common attitude that Muslims pose a threat to U.S. security whether they are U.S. citizens or not, McClennensaid adding: while these attitudes do break down heavily across party lines, it is noteworthy that the study indicated that even 12 percent of Democrats would consider denying Muslim citizens the right to vote. Their study also showed that 32 percent of Democrats favor targeting Muslims at U.S. airport screenings to ensure the safety of flights. That figure compares with 75 percent of Republicans.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority of the Supreme Court opinion upholding the travel ban. He emphasized that, despite ample evidence of President Donald Trump’s animus towards the Muslim community, the ban was a security issue and not an example of discrimination, “Because there is persuasive evidence that the entry suspension has a legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility, we must accept that independent justification.
As made clear by Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent, where she referenced the court’s 1944 decision to uphold the internment of Japanese Americans,the practice of claiming national security needs in order to implement discriminatory policy is nothing new in this country. She argued that the court's decision "leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a 'total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States' because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns."
Taken together the Supreme Court decision and the voter study reveal a mainstreaming of Islamophobia. Whether aimed at Syrian refugees or U.S. citizens, these attitudes, policies and practices underscore the reality that America really has a Muslim problem — a problem seeing Muslims as human beings deserving of dignity, human rights and respect,McClennen concluded.
Anti-Muslim Bias Incidents, Hate Crimes Spike in Second Quarter of 2018
Tellingly, anti-Muslim bias incidents and hate crimes are up 83 and 21 percent respectively, as compared to the first quarter of 2018, according to a report released in July by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.
Incidents involving government agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, have also risen by 60 percent in this time period. For the second quarter of 2018, CAIR received 1006 reports of potential bias incidents, with 431 of these reports determined to contain an identifiable element of anti-Muslim bias.
The 2018 second quarter report records denial of religious accommodation as the number one type of bias incident. Many of these cases have occurred at an incarceration or detention facility, making this the number one location of anti-Muslim bias incidents in the second quarter of the year. This is the first time that detention facilities have been among the top five locations of bias incidents since CAIR has kept records of anti-Muslim discrimination.
The most prevalent trigger of anti-Muslim bias incidents in 2018 remains the victim's ethnicity or national origin, accounting for 33 percent of the total. For the 341 cases in which a victim’s ethnicity or national origin was identified, the most frequent was “Middle Eastern/North African” at 39 percent.
The second most common was “Black/African-American” at 17 percent. At 14 percent, “South Asian” was the third most commonly targeted ethnicity. Seventeen percent of incidents occurred because of an individual being perceived as Muslim.
A Muslim woman’s head scarf (hijab) was a trigger in 16 percent of incidents. The report dataset is drawn primarily from the intakes CAIR conducts each year. With each case, civil rights and legal staff seek to ensure the highest possible level of accuracy. CAIR has reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president.
U.S. agencies fueled a national increase in Anti-Muslim incidents
Under President Donald Trump, the United States government has shown an “unprecedented level of government hostility” toward the Muslim religious minority in the country, according to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relationsreleased in April.
CAIR’s 2018 civil rights report, “Targeted,” disclosed that federal government agencies instigated more than one-third of anti-Muslim incidents in 2017.
Of the nearly 2,599 reports of anti-Muslim incidents CAIR received, 919 involved a government agency ― about 35 percent. The Customs and Border Patrol accounted for 348 of the reports, making up 38 percent of anti-Muslim incidents involving a federal agency, while the FBI accounted for 270 ― 29 percent of the government’s anti-Muslim incidents.
The Transportation Security Administration accounted for 72 incidents, or 8 percent of the government’s anti-Muslim incidents; Citizenship and Immigration Services accounted for 5 percent, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement accounted for 4 percent. In 12 percent of the cases, multiple federal government agencies were involved.
The overall 2017 figure for anti-Muslim incidents reported to CAIR featuring a government agency represented a sharp increase from previous years. In 2016, these type of incidents accounted for 24 percent of the total reported to the group. The figure was 22 percent in 2015 and 2014. The damning report also revealed that 464 reported incidents were specifically related to the Trump administration’s series of “Muslim ban” executive orders that began last year. They represented 18 percent of the total number of anti-Muslim bias incidents documented in 2017.
New Jersey Homeland Security cites 'dramatic rise' in violence by groups
A “dramatic rise” in violence by white supremacists, anti-government groups, anarchists and other domestic extremists means New Jersey will face new and growing challenges in the fight against terrorism in 2018, according to a report released in March this year.
The 2018 Terror Threat Assessment said extremists inspired by foreign organizations including the Islamic State group were still the top risk, but warned that other groups are expanding and committing more crimes.
“In the year ahead, homegrown violent extremists will remain our most persistent adversary,” said Jared Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, which released the annual report.
“Couple this with the dramatic rise in violence between race-based, single-issue, and anti-government extremists and it is clear that our threat landscape has become more diverse than ever before," he added.
Extremist groups have recruited at New Jersey college campuses and were behind a rash of hate crimes across the United States, from the stabbing of a black man in New York City to the mowing down of a protester at the “Unite the Right” Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness review tallied at least eight white supremacist groups that were active in 14 counties in the state last year. And there were arrests noted in several towns and cities.
International terror groups, white supremacists and anti-government militias are all harnessing the Internet to influence people and inspire them to commit attacks for their cause, said John Cohen, director of the Center for Critical Intelligence Studies at Rutgers and a former counterterrorism coordinator at the U. S. Department of Homeland Security.
When a terrorist is not a terrorist?
In March 2018, the 23-year-old, Mark Anthony Conditt,who was behind a series of package bombings,
blew himself up in Austin as police tried to arrest him. Police tracked down the bomber after obtaining CCTV footage of him posting two packages at a FedEx office in Austin. Conditt bought bomb-making materials at Home Depot, he had recorded a 25-minute confession video on his cellphone hours before he died after detonating one of his own devices. Authorities revealed Conditt had a target list of future locations to continue his reign of terror. The serial Austin bomber had been part of a Christian survivalist group that would discuss weapons and dangerous chemicals. His string of package bombs killed two people and wounded five in Texas.
“Why won't Trump call Austin bomber what he is? A Terrorist,” this is the title of the story by Alice Salles of Carbonated TV. The Austin bombing suspect is being called a domestic terrorist by people on social media, but why won't the media and the White House call him that?, she writes.
While police are still unsure of Mark Anthony Conditt's motive for having allegedly planted the bombs, many people have pointed out that if Conditt were Muslim, the media and elected officials would already have called him a terrorist, Salles said adding: But since Conditt called himself a conservative, was white, and had been raised Christian, President Donald Trump doesn't seem quick to jump on the word "terrorist" to describe the bombing suspect.
Tellingly, Conditt was part of a survivalist home school group that taught children how to use guns and discussed chemical reactions. Conditt was part of a group of students called the Righteous Invasion of Truth (RIOT), an organization that engages homeschooled kids on activities that range from studying the Bible to learning how to use guns. Many of its members were also interested in learning about dangerous chemicals, according to BuzzFeed.
Regardless of his motivations being unknown at this time, Conditt’s actions are terroristic in nature, if we're to be consistent with other incidents that have been labeled as such, Carbonated TV said adding: whatever his reasoning, the bombings he perpetrated intimidated a community in Texas, and it seems like that was part of his intent.
“It’s hypocritical of some media outlets and lawmakers in Washington to fail to identify Conditt as a terrorist. Were he a person of color or a person who followed Islam, politicians would be throwing out the descriptor of “terrorist” without hesitation. That he isn’t described as much shows egregious discrepancies on the part of those more willing to do so in other situations, when white individuals aren't the ones committing the crimes,” Carbonated TV emphasized.
Trump's National Security and State Department picks alarm American Muslims
To top it off, it is not only Trump in the executive spouting of Islamophobic drivel, he has surrounded himself with Islamophobes.
In April, American Muslims were alarmed by President Trump’s choice of John Bolton as a new national security adviser and Mike Pompeo as a new secretary of state.
John Bolton is a notorious Islamophobe who as a history of ties to anti-Muslim extremists and organizations. He served as chairman of the New York City-based anti-Muslim organization, whose website regularly highlights negative stories about Muslim immigrants. It published the myth that certain cities with Muslim majority neighborhoods were off limits to those who did not practice the faith. In its posts, the institute consistently depicts refugees as rapists and hosts of "highly infectious diseases" that threaten the health of the German people.
Bolton has long been associated with anti-Muslim extremists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. He even wrote the forward for Spencer and Geller's book "The Obama Administration's War on America." Geller endorsed Bolton as a presidential candidate. Bolton advocated for the Iraq War and promoted the false justification for the conflict. He has promoted anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and called for bombing Iran and North Korea.
In 2016, Bolton spoke at a conference of the American Freedom Alliance hate group. His speech at the conference, which had the overall theme, "Can Islam and the West Coexist?" contained a "joke" the punchline of which was that President Obama was a Muslim.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump's pick to lead the State Department, has portrayed the fight against terrorism as an epic holy war. "The threat to America is from people who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer," he told a church group in his hometown of Wichita in 2014. "They abhor Christians and will continue to press against us," he said, "until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure we know that Jesus Christ as our savior is truly the only solution for our world."
"By appointing these highly controversial individuals, the Trump administration is normalizing anti-Muslim sentiment," says Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "Trump is sending a green light for average people to mistreat Muslims."
Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric foments anti-Sharia bills
The imaginary sharia conspiracy is completely at odds with both facts and common sense.To borrow Maryland-based journalist and writer Arnold R. Isaacs,beyond any possible dispute, the sharia conspiracy is a fabrication, an imaginary threat conjured up to stoke public fear and hostility toward Muslims. No responsible official or opinion maker should give it any legitimacy. Yet, as the news agency Middle East Eye recently disclosed, it is presented as a real issue on the quintessentially establishment platform of President Trump's official campaign fund-raising website. A survey on the site, titled "Listening to America 2018," asks for visitors' views on a number of issues including, in question 27, "Are you concerned by the potential spread of sharia law?"Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.
In February this year, the Idaho House has voted 44-24 in favor of anti-Sharia law bill known as HB-419, which seeks to forbid the recognition of any foreign law by Idaho courts. Not surprisingly, Rep. Eric Redman, the mover of the bill, read large portions of his opening debate word-for-word from the American Public Policy Alliance’s “American Laws for American Courts” website. The bill follows model legislation developed by the group. Redman’s version, like the most recent model legislation, doesn’t specifically mention Sharia, to avoid that constitutional problem, but it’s the most frequent example he and others use to explain why they feel it’s needed. Redman told the House that while no Idaho judge has made a decision based on foreign laws, it could happen.
The bill targets Muslims and fits into a long pattern of "unconstitutional" bills that demonize Muslims by barring Sharia, or Islamic law. HB-419 was passed by Idaho's House of Representatives at a time when similar bills are being considered in several US states, including Montana, Oregon and Wisconsin.
According to the Haas Institute at the University of California at Berkeley:
Anti-Sharia law legislation has been dominating state legislatures all acrosѕ the country. No doubt emboldened by the President’s support fоr his agendas and initiatives.
In 2017 alone there were approximately 23 new pieceѕ of legislation that were introduced in 18 various states that would crack down on sharia law implementation in the United States.
If taken into account collectively that brings the total number of legislative efforts regarding anti-sharia law legislation to a total of 217 in 43 different states over an eight-year period since 2010.
The Haas Institute specifically records and monitors this type of legislation across the country.
Of the 23 bills introduced to state legislatures this year, only two became law – in Arkansas and Texas.
Four new states joined the growing list of legislatures where anti-sharia legislation has been attempted: Colorado, Connecticut, North Dakota and Wisconsin. All but one of the bills were introduced by Republicans. The exception was in Idaho where a committee with an unknown party affiliation was behind the move.
Heidi Beirich, an expert on anti-Muslim hate groups at the Southern Poverty Law Center, sees the rash of state bills as signs that the provocative language coming out of Trump’s circle is having an impact. “At the state level, the number one push for anti-Muslim activists is anti-sharia bills. It’s a recurrent effort.”
Trump himself called for all Muslims to be barred from entering the US when he was a presidential candidate, a sentiment that he has only barely tempered in his drive for a travel ban on several Muslim countries.
Several of the individuals he chose as key advisers also have a controversial track record.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist in the White House, once wrote a film script that warned of the country turning into the “Islamic States of America”. The short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn called Islamism a “vicious c****r” inside all Muslims that has to be “excised”, while former White House aide Sebastian Gorka was once fired by the FBI as a counter-terrorism lecturer for his Islamophobic views.”
Senate recognizes rights and contributions of American Muslims
On the positive side, the American Muslims for support from US Senate, California State Senate and City of Santa Clara, recognizing their rights and contributions.
In April, the California State Senate proclaimed“the month of April 2018 as Arab American Heritage Month.” Senate Concurrent Resolution commemorates the month of April as “Arab American Heritage Month” in California and recognizes the important contributions of Arab Americans to our state. “the resolution is part of a broader effort toward creating awareness and paying respect to California’s approximately 800,000 Arab American residents. In addition, vcelebrates the achievements of Arab American Californians and highlights their commitment and contributions to their communities,” said Senator Newman (D-Fullerton).
Similarly, in June the Senate adopted a resolution recognizing the rights and liberties granted to people of all faiths in the United States, including American Muslims, and the many valuable contributions Muslims have made to the nation throughout its history.
The resolution was sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), titled “Recognizing the freedom of Muslims of the United States to exercise their religion and participate in the civil systems of their country.”
The resolution specifically raises awareness about the millions of American Muslim, who as a community, have contributed to the nation by serving “in the Armed Forces of the United States for generations,” and as “scientists,” “inventors,” “athletes,” “entrepreneurs,” “Members of Congress,” “Ambassadors of the United States,” “business owners, firefighters, police officers, physicians, laborers, service workers, and teachers.”
In July the City of Santa Clara has recognized the month of August as “Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month” through a proclamation.
Record number of Muslim Americans make bids for elected office
July 16: Despite all odds, around 90 Muslim Americans had launched campaigns for national or statewide offices this election cycle, a number that Muslim groups and political observers say is unprecedented in the post-9/11 era.
Many, however, have faced anti-Muslim backlash. From Congress to state legislatures and school boards, Muslim Americans spurred to action by the anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric of President Trump and his supporters are running for elected offices in numbers not seen since 9/11, say Muslim groups and political observers.
But recent primaries have whittled the field down to around 50, a number that still far exceeds the dozen or so that ran in 2016, Shaun Kennedy, co-founder of Jetpac, a Massachusetts nonprofit that helps train Muslim American candidates, told the Associated Press.
Among the candidates to fall short were California physician Asif Mahmood, who placed third in June’s primary for state insurance commissioner, despite raising more than $1 million.
And in Texas, wealthy businessman Tahir Javed finished a distant second in his Democratic primary for Congress, despite an endorsement from Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
Nine candidates for Congress are still in t he running, according to Jetpac's tally. At least 18 others are campaigning for state legislature and 10 more seek major statewide and local offices, such as governor, mayor, and city council. Even more are running for more modest offices like local planning board and school committee.
At present there are two Muslims in the House of Representatives, Keith Ellison and André D. Carson. Both are members of the Democratic Party.
André D. Carson is the U.S. Representative for Indiana's 7th congressional district since 2008. Rep. Andre Carson easily defeated three Democratic challengers to win his party's nomination in central Indiana's 7th District last May.
Keith Maurice Ellison was elected from Minnesota's 5th congressional district in 2007. Ellison was the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress. He is also the first African American to have been elected to the U.S. House from Minnesota. Keith Ellison is not contesting for the House of Representatives. He is now a candidate for Minnesota Attorney General.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com