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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Arabs and Muslim Americans after 9/11

Time to Educate America!
Time to Educate America!

After the tragedy of Sept. 11, it is obvious Americans know little about Arabs and Muslims. Unique to the Muslim array of emotions over the Sept. 11 attacks is the overwhelming desire to denounce terrorism and reclaim Islam as a religion of peace in the eyes of an injured America. Forty-two percent of Muslim Arabs interviewed for a survey in Detroit-an area with one of the largest concentrations of Arab-Americans in the nation-feel their religion is not respected by mainstream society.

Derogatory comments like, “Go back where you came from!” or “Ooh, are you a member of al Qaeda?” were the most common form of abuse. Others alleged job discrimination and a small number reported physical assault. Nearly 60 percent said they worry more about their families’ future than before the attacks. The report comes as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, among other groups, relays a steady stream of allegations of poor treatment of Muslims in this country. Many Muslims have complained that harassment and unfair law enforcement tactics are byproducts of the Bush administration’s battle against terrorism.

The Arab-American Anti Discrimination Committee put together a report on hate crimes and discrimination against Arab Americans since 9/11 in 2003. There are countless cases of airline discrimination, job discrimination, and even cases where banks denied services to Arab or Muslim Americans. Legally, the Patriot Act allows the government to target Arab- and Muslim-American individuals from eavesdropping, to the FBI making random house searches without warrants. Shockingly, after 9/11 the government detained and jailed without warrant or any evidence Arab men, denying them any communication with their families and lawyers. These were secret detentions, hearings and even deportations. Detainees might wait anywhere between several hours to several months before learning the reason behind their arrest or being allowed to contact an attorney. Masses of immigrants have been imprisoned for weeks before false charges were brought against them. This is without mentioning the human rights atrocities being committed at Guantanamo Bay. Legally, civil liberties of Arab and Muslim Americans are at stake because the majority of Americans favor tighter governmental security regulations targeted specifically against Arabs and Muslims. One can read books on this hot topic. But there is some good coming from this situation.

Educating the American public on Arab cultures and especially on what Islam is all about is the mission of Muslim- and Arab-Americans. Americans are now curious to know what Islam is and who Arabs are. Muslims are trying many different programs to educate the masses. Muslim American Society, the American Islamic Congress, the Arab-American Anti Discrimination Committee, are just a few organizations which have be striving hard to get rid of the negative image of Islam and the Middle East. Grass roots activism is another way the average Muslim is trying to be part of the raising of awareness. College students to mothers in American public school suburbs are all speaking up and writing. The media and the government distorted the image of Islam and Arabs enough. Muslim- and Arab-Americans are not going to sit back and watch as the truth is denied. We will educate our people to educate the masses around us.

If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it for you. Therefore, a key thing that Muslims must remind themselves is: If we don’t start representing ourselves, who will?