Today, America remembers the nation’s worst terrorist attack in history and how it affected and brought this country together in times of turmoil.
Yet as America healed after 9/11, Muslim Americans were targeted by other ethnicities because of fear and misunderstanding of their culture. Eleven years after the terrorist attacks on America, hatred toward Muslim Americans still is prevalent in the United States, leaving many wondering when and if this country will truly accept people of the Islamic religion.
Ever since the 9/11 attacks, hatred toward Muslims has been growing in the United States. In 2010, hate crimes against Muslims increased 50 percent, according to FBI statistics. Religious figures also have expressed anti-Muslim sentiments, including Florida Rev. Terry Jones, who threatened to burn the Quran, the central religious text of the Islamic faith.
Muslim Americans face more difficulties than most other minority groups in America. These citizens are not granted affirmative action benefits, unlike women and African Americans. Middle Eastern Americans also do not have their own box on the U.S. Census to identify themselves with, reflecting a lack of acceptance of their ethnic background.
A majority of Americans acknowledge the difficulties Muslim Americans face. Fifty-two percent of Americans said they believe Western societies do not respect Muslims, according to a 2011 Gallup poll. The same report by Gallup on Islamophobia, or a fear of members of the Islamic faith, found 60 percent of Muslim Americans agreed in 2010 that most Americans are prejudiced toward Muslims, and 48 percent of Muslims surveyed reported facing discrimination in the past year.
But what causes this hatred and discrimination of Muslim Americans in the United States?
Misunderstanding of the faith and its practices causes many Americans to have an unfavorable opinion of the religion and its followers. Media outlets have speculated reports of possible sleeper cells and hidden terrorist agendas within the United States.
Members of the U.S. government, including former presidential candidate and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., have told horror stories of members of the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating American government to pass U.S. national security secrets back to terrorism units within the Middle East. Bachmann pointed her finger at Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying she suspected Abedin had connections with the Muslim Brotherhood. Bachmann received criticism from members of both parties for causing a witch hunt within the U.S. government, and her suspicions proved false.
These suspicions raised by media outlets and prominent members of the U.S. government create fear and misunderstanding of the Islamic faith. Many believe the Islamic faith teaches hatred of freedom and other American values.
Yet Islam teaches love and acceptance, much like Christianity. And like Christianity, the Islamic faith has extremists, such as the terrorist group al-Qaida, but the majority of Muslims are not terrorists, and do not hate Americans.
So today, 11 years after the vicious attacks against America, the United States should make acceptance a priority. America is a progressive nation built as a melting pot of races and ethnicities.
It is time the United States becomes united.