Tomorrow marks not only the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but also 20 years of unjustly forcing the Muslim community to be associated with Osama bin Laden and shoulder his burden when he himself was exiled from Saudi Arabia.
What Caused All of This Mess?
On September 17, 2001, Former President George W. Bush reiterated the fact that “these acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.”
“The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war,” Former President Bush said. “Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That’s not the America I know. That’s not the America I value,” he continued.
Similarly, on February 05, 2015, Former President Barack Obama reminded the white community of the crimes committed in the name of Christianity as well.
“Remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often were justified in the name of Christ,” Former President Obama said. “So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency, that can pervert and distort our faith.”
What Role Do Double Standards Play in This?
In his book Presumed Guilty: Why We Shouldn’t Ask Muslims to Condemn Terrorism, Todd H. Green, an associate professor of religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and a former U.S. State Department advisor on Islamophobia in Europe, talked about how Muslims are criminalized merely because they’re Muslims, and not “because of evidence of participation in criminal or terrorist activities.”
“Muslims are viewed not as citizens or residents with the same rights and privileges as majority populations, but as suspects who must constantly prove their innocence under relentless scrutiny,” A/Prof. Green said.
A/Prof. Green explained that, on the contrary, white people aren’t blamed for the crimes that someone else from their community might commit.
“Take Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine African Americans … in 2015. Roof and I share several things in common. He’s white. So am I. His religious background is Lutheran. I teach at a Lutheran college and collaborate regularly with Lutheran organizations. He is a native Southerner. Me too. Despite these similarities, no one … lumped me together with Roof. I was presumed innocent,” he said. “Muslims don’t get the same benefit of the doubt.”
In fact, the Muslim community, which is always perceived as a group of extremists, condemns all forms of terrorism and injustice, but all of this doesn’t seem to change the narrative within the mainstream.
9/11 isn’t a legacy that the Muslims have to bear, or else, we’d need to start to hold white people accountable for the acts of the brainwashed Branch Davidians.
Worse still, we’d need to hold Vox accountable for belittling the crimes committed by David Koresh who, according to Tracking Terrorism Organization, was charged with “having sex with underage girls and stockpiling illegal weapons.”
“It’s the story of a maniacal and apocalypse-minded cult leader, David Koresh, whose delusional stubbornness led to the deaths of 76 people,” Vox described Koresh.
Unfortunately, the hackneyed rhetoric of making excuses for white criminals so that they can be let off for what they do, or at least get some sympathy from people, is so prevalent.
If only he had been a Muslim, with his prophecies about mass suicide operations, which he called the “Holy War,” he would’ve been called a jihadist right away.
Whose Fight Is This If It’s not ours?
Islamophobia isn’t a Muslim problem, as The New York Times called it. Rather, it’s a white problem, because they are the ones who made it with their relentless stereotypes and unfounded generalizations. That’s why after all the tremendous work that the Muslim community has been doing, it’s always one step forward, and two steps back.
Islamophobia shouldn’t be a legacy of Muslims. The intergenerational stigma shouldn’t be a legacy for Muslims. The white community that created this intergenerational trauma for American Muslims, and Muslims globally bear that burden.
Does That Mean That Muslims No Longer Want to Advocate for Their Rights?
The thing is: it should have never been the case in the first place. It’s absurd that any community that isn’t white has to fight and lose members of their families just to be treated as any human would be treated — which is the bare minimum.
Former President Bush said on October 6, 2005, “Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it’s called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam.”
“These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus — and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics,” he continued. And even so, nobody listened.
9/11 should be a day when the white community holds itself accountable for being nothing but utterly judgmental of Islamic practices when they identify themselves as advocates for “nonjudgmentalism,” and the “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
“As Muslims, particularly young men, move through these consecutive stages, they become increasingly devout. For example, they may grow a beard or stop drinking or gambling. Such religious behaviors, in the NYPD radicalization paradigm, constitute suspicious activities suggesting a path toward radicalization,” A/Prof. Green said.
But, ironically, a white Christian is allowed to do these very practices and is even praised for doing them.
“A Muslim who pursues the straight and narrow is treated very differently than a white born-again Christian who does the same. A sober Muslim is deemed a security risk; a sober Christian is not,” A/Prof. Green explained.
And it’s not like the whole world hasn’t seen how Asian-Americans have been subjected to hatred from white supremacists due to COVID-19, and how Black Americans have been losing their families and loved ones because of these forms of discrimination. In fact, 81 percent of Asian Americans say that there’s an increase in violence against them, whereas 68 percent of Black Americans say that their skin color diminishes their chances of getting ahead in the U.S.
All these communities, just as the Muslim community, haven’t necessarily committed any crimes. And yet, they still have to suffer the consequences of the ideology of white supremacists who have projected these baseless stereotypes on everyone who is different from them.
Because of white supremacists, every anniversary of 9/11 is a reminder for Muslims that the white community still has to do better than this and still needs to collectively practice what it preaches without excluding others regardless of any differences.