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Decades after 9/11, Muslims continue to be target of hate crimes, Islamophobia

People protest against against a ruling by the US Supreme Court upholding former President Donald Trump's travel ban on people from mostly Muslim countries in Washington DC, US. (File photo)

The Muslim population of the United States has increasingly been the target of Islamophobia and hate crimes in the years following the September 11 attacks, which unleashed a new era of racism and discrimination against Muslims.

On the 21st anniversary of the attacks on Sunday, the executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Hussam Ayloush, said that “Muslims continue to face the threat of targeted violence," Al Jazeera reported on Sunday. 

“Muslims continue to be the target of hate, bullying, and discrimination as a result of the stereotypes that were perpetuated by Islamophobes and the media in the years following the 9/11 attacks,” said Ayloush.

According to FBI statistics, said hate crimes against Muslims skyrocketed immediately after September 11, 2001, and are still on an upward trend.

Ayloush said. “The unfortunate reality is there are people and organizations that benefit from perpetuating Islamophobia, bigotry, and war.”

After the 9/11 attacks,  Ayloush  noted, there was "a perfect storm of the American people and its government needing a common 'enemy,' the multimillion-dollar Islamophobia industry, the military-industrial complex, and the growing threat of white nationalism."

"These factors combined created a volatile environment for Muslims and anyone else perceived as 'other.' The unfortunate reality is that there are people and organizations that benefit from perpetuating Islamophobia, bigotry, and war," he added.

Ayloush further said that the statistics were not surprising considering the current volatile political climate in the US perpetuated by former President Donald Trump during his term in office.

“Trump’s presidency normalized being an anti-Muslim bigot. He made it socially acceptable to be overtly anti-Muslim,” said Ayloush.

Upon taking office in January 2017, Trump signed an executive order that banned travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Citing “the Muslim ban,” Ayloush said, “Although the current administration overturned the ban, we are still dealing with the ramifications of it to this day with many families still being separated.”

Ayloush noted the US has a long history of “dehumanizing and marginalizing” ethnic and religious groups, including Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, and Asian Americans.

According to Zahra Jamal, associate director of Rice University’s Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance in Houston, 62 percent of Muslims report feeling religion-based hostility and 65 percent feel disrespected by others.

“That’s almost three times the percentage among Christians,” said Jamal.

She said the numbers related to discrimination against Muslims are alarming and show just how much Islamophobia has increased in the US over the past 20 years.

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