Americas negative view of Islam and Arabs after 911.
There are so many factors that are affecting the sociology of the religion in the whole globe. Religion is one of the basic factor that is looked upon by different communities in the world are directed by the religion belief.
In this regard, there are several historical surveys that have been conducted to establish the realities of different religion groups’ experiences in different locations in the world. Different religion groups have established education centers to teach and train moral values of their religion to their children and those who are joining the religion.
Muslims have not been left behind in this issue. Muslims have faced various difficulties concerning their religion. This study focuses on the negative treatment Islam and Arabs are facing in the United States of America especially after the terror attack of 9/11.
The purpose of this survey is to establish the origin development and the development of Islam in the United States, how the religion is taken by the fellow Americans especially after the 9/11 attack in the country. This is taken from different historical back grounds, studies and published and unpublished articles. Muslims are from different back grounds example, Arabs, Asians, Africans and whites. There is much confusion between Islam as a religion and Arabs as community, mostly is believed that Islamic is for the Arabs, this is viewed in that perspective because most of the Arabs countries have declared to be Muslim countries.
In the United States, it is estimated that there are about thirteen million, some of them are descendants who are not practicing the religion, and it is believed that some of them lack adequate literature concerning their religion. Most them would like to pass Islam to their descendants but it has been hard for the parents lack strong knowledge about the religion and have faint faith and practice in their daily life.
Factors affecting the sociology of religion
The populations of the Muslims living in the United States are estimated to be over six millions; more than a half of this population is Arabs. The Muslims that live in the United States are educated and lives in a better life than the average Americans. Unlike in other European countries, American Muslims are more assimilated into the mainstream society.
When the terrorists struck the United States, in Washington and New York in September eleven in 1998, most Muslims were horrified and shocked as their fellow Americans. To cope with the shock of terror, most Muslims had to deal with the pain of discrimination from their fellow Americans. Muslims were in fear of walking down the streets in fear of physical attacks, it was much apparent after several cases of attacks were witnessed in various cities in the country like in Arizona.
The Sikhs were also experiencing hardships and attacks for they wear turbans and were mistakenly taken for Arabs, some were shot and killed and others were seriously injured especially in Arizona. This brought about violence among the communities, there was a dramatically job discrimination increase, no one would like to be associated with Islam for they were vied as terrorist, other fields that were affected by the racial profiling are health care sector and other public service sector.
After the attack of September eleven, some anti-terrorist measures were taken that affected the welfare of the Islam, such measures were like surveillance of the Muslim charity organizations and also limiting the number of immigrants by granting limited visas. Immigrants and students from Muslim countries were affected as well as their counterparts in America.
Though most Muslims tried to show patriotism and loyalty to the United States through issuing statements and other articles to the public condemning terrorism, most of Muslims charity organizations weakened and other ceased to operate, this was as a result of discrimination from the society and other possible donors who would fund the organizations.
The issues of discrimination have been denounced by some American Muslims even after the attack on September eleven; some have claimed that their fellow Americans have been supportive to them. Since year 2001, there have been a growth of interest in Islamic culture, this is evidenced by the growth of Koran sales which now among the best selling books, there have also been growth in enrolment of Arabic language classes.
It has been claimed that American Muslims have not fully engaged in fighting terrorism and in denunciations of radical Islamist ideology. There is also a failure in Muslim leadership, instead of admitting that there is a problem and seek for ways to deal with it, and the problem is with extremist, most of the American Muslim organizations have taken the victimization mentality and instead of admitting that there is a problem, they accuse who notice the problem of being anti-Muslim. (Al Jadid Magazine 2002)
Evaluation of implications from sociological perspective
In view of the religion implications through sociological perspective, the investigation that was conducted by Nawash states that ‘The investigation of many Islamic organizations after the September 11th attacks were justified and many of them deserved to be closed’. This was a good thing because it weakened most of the traditional Muslim organizations and some Muslim charities also faced the fate.
The traditional Muslim organizations were the organizations that whose mean goal was to advocate for Muslim politics and to create related theocracies or what the commonly call caliphate. The abilities of these Muslim organizations to impact the Muslims have been drastically reduced in the United States. (Betts,1988)
The weakening of these organizations has given a room to the Islam organizations that recognize the importance and American values of democratic institutions. This has reduced the likelihood of formation of home-grown Islamist terrorist cells in the United States. The analysts, Nawash, says that the new Muslim generation are more religious that the parent generation or traditional generation. Most of the young Muslims wear traditional Muslim attires their parents left behind long ago. They increasingly attend Islamic classes and lectures and student organizations are emerging in high schools and higher education institutions across the United States.
American mosques have changed their roles from being a strict place of worship to being centers of socialization and a place Islam culture teachings and Arab language and value center.
American Muslims are quite concerned about the continuing war in Iraq, the Middle East violence and lack of a resolution between the Israel and Palestinian problem, the recent appraisal in Lebanon, but American Muslims are blamed by other Countries Muslims for using political method to voice their concerns rather than using any other kind of radical thought or organization.
Islam is considered as an integral part of their character by American Muslims above their national identity and importantly they ensure that they integrate into mainstream society.
The status of Islam in US since 9/11
As the years pass after the terror attack of 9/11, there is a recurring of terrorism alerts that continuously fuels panics and paranoia among the Muslims. The Americans continuously remain silent about the violation of human rights perpetrated in the United States against the Arabs and Muslims in general. No one has been able to come out to speak about and trace the long history of this anti-Arab animosity.
The prejudice of Americans against Muslims and Arabs, were among the few culturally sanctioned forms of discrimination and bigotry before the September eleven attacks and has become more dangerous after the fall of towers. This has brought a sense and feel of alienation among the American Muslims even at their own country. Despite the issue of statements claiming that Islam and Arabs are friends of United States, it’s quite apparent in the current situation for Muslims are being picked for questioning concerning terrors and others are being detained by police and investigation departments due to their ethnic profile. In most airports, anyone with Muslim name or Arab is told to stand aside during security checks and is paid special attention. There have been a number of reported cases of discriminating behavior against Arabs, this has developed a fear of reading Arabic document or speaking Arabic for this may draw unwanted public attention.
Currently there is practically nothing to counter the negative images of Muslims and the Arabs in the United States. The build up of the US against Iraq and Israel prolonged punishment against Palestinians have had a great approval by the general public in the United States. This is an evidence that there exists anti Arab culture in the US and therefore associating Arabs with all unpleasant things.
Although Arabs in the United States have been able to achieve successes in educating the general public and sensitizing people the coarseness of equating word Arab with vagrancy and openly blaming Arabs for any terror that occurs and the violation of human right. The current Arabs in the United States lack or have little material concerning their culture, therefore this limits them understand their tradition and the present. This leads them to live under frustrations for none of their tradition is recognized or admitted, there are also no institutions that are designed to develop the tradition and culture of Arabs in the country. It has been a tread that no Arab author can be recognized for they are considered dangerous to write about their own cultural works. When a poem or a novel is published it is either regarded as a minor literature or is simply ignored and therefore this is clear evidence that there is no right for an Arab to say anything in the United States.
Arab writers have receiving poor treatment in the US, example of this is when an Egyptian novelist won a Nobel Prize; the New York Times had to publish an article making a clear quotation from Israel consul to see whether there would be an objection for the reward, later after the gulf war the same news paper published a whole page for their readers who would like to read about Iraq, none of the given books were written by an Arab just to justify themselves later that they could not include Arabs for they had written in Arabic and they claimed that Arabic is controversial language. (George, 1997)
On the other hand there is no established institution to teach about the western culture or the united states, despite all this there are several issues that creates the awareness of the united states in the Muslim world, such things are like, American films, magazines, television programs and consumer goods. Contrary to this none of the Arab fictions or the culture analyses are devoted to the United States.
The rights of the Muslim in the United States have not been established and the Arabs are living like aliens no matter how long they have lived in the country, there is a need to amend and respect the right of citizens no matter the race or religion background. (Battle, 1988)
The possible solutions to the state of Islam and Arabs in the United States are to raise their voice and prove not to what they are thought to be. If only Islam could join hand with the government in the fight against terror, I believe this could be reduced to a notable level. According to the terrors that have been performed in the past, the followers of Muslim religion have been the pioneers and therefore this has raised their mistreatment in the United States for they are believed to be among the terrorist groups.
On the other hand, Islam and Arabs should always be taking part in an effort to fight terror. They can do this by joining the government forces and be in frontline to convince the government and the community of their efforts to fight terrorism; this may reduce to certain percentage an issue of discrimination and suspicion that they are all terrorists.
Another possible solution in reducing the rate of discrimination among the Arabs and Islam in general report any one whether he/she is among them when suspected to plan to perform an attack or conduct terrorist activities. This may help in increasing trust of the community to them and therefore this will reduce the gap between them and other communities hence reducing the level of mistreatment.
The Arabs and Muslim should try to form their advocating organizations that should teach the community about the genuine of the Arabs and even though they are associated with crime and terrorism, there are others among them that respect the welfare of other community. This would reduce the negative image of the Arab community to Americans in return create a better image that would strengthen the relationship of Arabs living in the US and Americans.
Islam should also join other religions in helping other communities, it has been noted that there is no Good Samaritan among them; this has heightened the gap between them and other communities, if only they could support the needy no matter the religion and race.
Another issue that have increased the level of discrimination among the communities in the United States and Arabs is their religion stand and believe, as other communities believes that no one should kill the other, they believe that killing for the sake of the religion you have not committed any crime. This has increased the level of attacks that have been committed by the Muslims in various countries, such kind of attacks are like suicidal bombing and non Muslims attacks that have been happening in various countries especially in Muslim countries. (New York Times 1993)
Muslims discrimination has been there for a long time, efforts by the Muslim to combat the situation have been fruitless for none of the religion want to bow down for the other. The counter attacks between the United States and the Muslim communities have brought about this problem.
Muslims have been accused of various attacks in the United States and this has brought about their being discriminated in the country. They have accused of being violators of human rights and they have still been complaining to the US of being the violators of their rights.
The status of the Arabs in the US has deteriorated since the attack for they were accused as being part of the attack. This brought about discrimination to Arabs in the most crucial areas of life like in the health care centers and in places of work. If they were able to come out at first and condemn the act of attack, probably this could not have gone to an extent of open discrimination. The failure of the Muslim leaders to recognize the problem the religion is facing in the United States has also contributed to the mistreatment of the Muslims in the United States.
The solutions can be found to integrate the Arabs and Muslim community if they stop from being involved in the acts of terror and violence and also respect rights for other communities. Shunning some of their religious believes could also play a great ole in eradicating discrimination and stream of fear Among the Arabs and Muslims, this will eradicate the issues of being put aside in some public service areas like in airports and bus stages.
Al Jadid Magazine, (2002) Vol. 8, p. 39
Battle, D. (1988) the influence of Islam in America, Journal, Vol 45, p.33
Betts, R. (1988) The Druce, New Haven, Yale university press
George, B. (1997) The future of new religion, Macom, mercer university press
New York Times (1993) Growing Islamic presence in the US, 2nd May, p. 14