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As the 20th anniversary of September 11 passed on Saturday, American Muslims braced for what community leaders said was happening every year around this time: a wave of overt hatred and Islamophobia.
Passers-by outside the Islamic Center of Greater Austin in Texas discovered a bloodied mask of a pig’s head and a sign stuck in the ground stating, “You are as unclean to God as a pig is to you.” “. The Austin Police Department’s Hate Crimes Review Board is examining the vandalism, but it needs more evidence for it to be considered a hate crime, according to local news station KVUE-ABC.
“These kinds of crimes affect families, communities and our entire nation,” Zainab Chaudry, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told NBC Asian America.
But they’re not new, she said, and the post-9/11 landscape for Muslims in the United States has been brutal. CAIR recently reported that a large majority of Muslims have been discriminated against since the 2001 attacks. Additionally, a 2020 survey showed a sharp drop in American Muslims’ satisfaction with the country after the Former President Donald Trump took office in 2017.
September 11 is always a particularly difficult day, Chaudry said.
“Some Muslims quit their jobs; others plan to not have to leave the house that day, ”she said. “Parents said they keep their children home from school, while many mosques are stepping up security measures.”
The vandalism of a mosque in Grand Blanc, Michigan on Saturday led to calls from Muslim leaders to have the incident investigated as a possible hate crime. Members of the Grand Blanc Islamic Center found his welcome sign disfigured and broken lighting fixtures outside the building.
Aicha Touré, a black Muslim woman who wears a hijab, was allegedly assaulted and labeled a “Muslim terrorist” on a Spirit Airlines flight from Atlanta to Detroit by a white passenger. After successfully registering the woman, Touré reported the incident to CAIR. The white woman, who was arrested in Wayne County, allegedly harassed several people on the flight, including an older South Asian woman and crew members.
In Maryland, CAIR received reports of a woman harassed by racist comments from a white neighbor and a Muslim child harassed by a teacher and peers on the Friday before September 11. A CAIR statement said the young boy’s family detailed an Islamophobic lesson plan on 9/11, in which the teacher asked his son to tell the class who was responsible for the attacks.
“These kinds of scapegoats and harassment can have a lasting impact into adulthood,” Chaudry said in a statement posted online. “Every student has the right to a safe learning environment. “
Underreporting is a huge problem in American Muslim circles, Chaudry said. She encouraged those who have suffered attacks to come forward to trusted leaders so that the scope of Islamophobia in their communities can be better understood.
“There is a significant disparity between hate incidents that occur and those that are reported to law enforcement,” she said. “It is important to report them not only so that victims and survivors can receive adequate support throughout their ordeal, but also so that they are properly prosecuted and justice served. “
Austin, Texas Police Department; Wayne County, Michigan; and the Township of Grand Blanc, Michigan, did not respond to requests for comment.