After September 11, reservations about Arabs in America heightened: airlines profiled passengers; people wearing traditional Arab dress were singled out and understood to be terrorists. Other Americans searching for answers and outlets for their hate turned to violence against blameless Arab-American victims. Legitimate fears turned into name-calling, threats, attack, and murders.
An FBI report released in late November 2002, recorded 481 incidents of hate against Muslims in 2001, up 1600% from the 2000 count of 28 incidents. Muslims were once the slightest common religious group targeted by hate. The increase in violent crimes is straight threatening to all Arab-Americans. Mohamad Ali Elahi, the imam at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Detroit, said in a Los Angeles Times article, “For us, the pain continues, the suffering continues. The prejudice that was produced after this disastrous event insulted the sacredness and the belief system of our faith community” (Serrano, 2002). Though Americans have been discriminatory since September 11, the rise in hate is a threat to all of America. Though some of the suspicions toward Arabs and Muslims after September 11 are due to genuine fears, hate crimes against those of Arab descent are root by other psychological and sociological factors which are not correct.
Unlike other ascribed and self-described “people of color” in the United States, Arabs are often secreted under the Caucasian label, if not forgotten altogether. However, after September 11, 2001, the Arab-Americans are no longer invisible. Whether traveling, driving, working, walking through a neighborhood, or sitting in their homes, Arabs in America citizens and non-citizens are now subjected to the special inquiry in American society. The violence, discrimination, defamation, and intolerance now tackle by Arabs in American society has reached a level unparalleled in their over 100-year history in the US.
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