September 10, 2006
Written by C.N.
As we approach the five-year anniversary of 9/11, Reuters/Yahoo News has an article that summarizes some of the challenges that many Muslim and Arab Americans still face in their efforts to demonstrate that they are just as American as anybody else:
Ihsan Saadeddin is proud to be an American. But he’s tired of having to prove it just because he’s a Muslim too. The Palestinian grocery store owner in Phoenix has called the United States home for 25 years and feels as American as the next guy. He met his wife in Arizona, sent his three children to public school and has a weakness for McDonald’s.
But Saadeddin says the September 11 attacks were a tragic watershed which turned U.S. Muslims from ordinary citizens into objects of suspicion and discrimination overnight. He believes it is why he was questioned at the airport for 45 minutes last month and asked repeatedly if he supports terrorism. . . .
U.S. officials deny they unfairly target Muslim Americans and say community leaders have better access to top U.S. officials than ever before. Outreach efforts include town hall meetings with law enforcement officers and training courses for officials by community members.
It’s clear that we as a society still have a long way to go in the effort to reduce the levels of racial profiling and ignorant anti-Arab and anti-Muslim backlash that still exist in this country. As a sociologist, I am willing to accept that changing attitudes will take time and patience.
However, I am not willing to accept the fact that every time there is some “security” incident at the airport or on a flight that the first people who get detained and interrogated are Arab and Muslim Americans, despite the fact that the vast majority of such incidents, particularly in recent weeks, have nothing to do with them.
As the article mentions, what we need is better and more useful intelligence, part of which involves better cooperation with Arab and Muslim communities, to identify possible security threats, rather than blanket suspicions and kneejerk reactions against Arabs and Muslim every time there is some security incident.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "The State of Muslim Americans" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/09/the-state-of-muslim-americans/> ().
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