Almost 70% of Muslim Americans say they have “personally experienced one or more incidents of anti-Muslim bigotry or discrimination since 9/11,” a report released by a Muslim advocacy group Friday found.
Muslim Americans say they are the target of an “unfair assignment” of “guilt by association” 20 years after al Qaeda terrorists claiming to act in the name of jihad flew airplanes into the Pentagon as well as New York City’s World Trade Center twin towers, said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), at a D.C. news conference.
The group also presented a Greenbelt, Maryland, man who said police were inattentive to his report of a hate crime on Thursday. Police later said the alleged assailant had experienced “a mental health crisis.”
The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks killed more than 3,000 people and injured thousands more at the Arlington and New York City locations. A fourth aircraft believed to be destined for the U.S. Capitol was brought down in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after a group of passengers rushed the cockpit and overpowered the hijackers.
Muslim Americans have “been suffering … from the impact on our community of 9/11,” Mr. Awad said.
“American Muslims today are in a much better position, stronger than at any other time,” Mr. Awad noted. “But they are still the subject of a fundamental injustice of Islamophobia and policies that have been targeting them.”
CAIR‘s online survey found that 69% of American Muslims had experienced one or more incidents of bigotry or discrimination since the attacks, with 72% of women and 67% of men encountering problems. Only 56% of Muslim women felt accepted in American society versus 65% of men. The group received 1,338 responses, with 1,053 of them complete.
Mr. Awad criticized policies implemented by the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as the “Muslim ban” of President Trump. He was particularly critical of the USA Patriot Act, which eased surveillance laws and was enacted roughly six weeks after the 9/11 attacks.
“That surveillance has banned us, and treated us as criminals when we have nothing to do with 9/11 and those who attacked us,” Mr. Awad said. “According to the survey, you will see that 40% of American Muslims [reporting] they have experienced being stopped at airports because they believe that they have been put on the watch list. That should not be the way the government is treating its own citizens.”
CAIR in 2007 was named by federal prosecutors as one of 245 unindicted co-conspirators in a case involving funding for Hamas terrorists.
At the news conference, Ahmed Elzaree of Greenbelt, a Washington suburb, said his family was subjected to what he called a hate crime on Thursday.
Mr. Elzaree said his daughter, Amir, was harassed by a neighbor, who blocked the driveway as the young woman — who he said wore a hijab — was parking her car. He said the “unprovoked” incident was the latest in a string of unusual occurrences over the past two months, including tire slashings as well as nails and screws left in the driveway, presumably to cause other tire problems.
“On June 18, neighbors [told] me that the water irrigation system of the front yard has been broken, and the water is everywhere. When I went there, it was smashed,” he said.
Mr. Elzaree said neighbors warned him to be “watchful” and to install video monitoring cameras at his house “because you are Muslims and this neighborhood has some kind of Islamophobia going on.”
“My daughter was very scared yesterday. And even when we went to the police station to report the incident, I didn’t find that they were very helpful. They didn’t do much. They just gave us the number of the incident report.”
Late Friday, Greenbelt Police issued a statement which said, in part, “Officers who are specially trained in investigating these types of incidents followed up on this report, identified the parties involved, and determined the statements made to the family were made by an individual experiencing a mental health crisis.”
The police statement added, “We appreciate the hard work of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and look forward to the opportunity to build a partnership together.”