It wasn’t much of a surprise, after more than a year of heated anti-Muslim rhetoric, that the 10th anniversary of 9/11 brought out some of the worst in American bigotry.
It wasn’t much of a surprise, after more than a year of heated anti-Muslim rhetoric, that the 10th anniversary of 9/11 brought out some of the worst in American bigotry. Apparent hate crimes linked to the event were reported in North Carolina, New York, Texas and California.
Hate crimes directed at Muslims and Arabs shot up by more than 1,600% immediately after Al Qaeda’s attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, killed nearly 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Between three and eight persons were murdered — the number remains in dispute — in hate killings in the aftermath of the attacks, several of them Sikhs apparently mistaken for Muslims. But anti-Muslim hate crimes dropped by almost two-thirds in 2002, in large part because President George W. Bush repeatedly emphasized that Muslims and Arabs were not the enemy. Anti-Muslim hate crimes continued to diminish, to about one-fifth the 2001 level, until 2009, the latest year for which national hate crimes statistics are available.
In the last year, however, propaganda from activists and politicians has vilified Muslims. More than a dozen states have taken up proposals to pass laws against the imposition of Islamic Shariah law — laws that are completely unnecessary, given that the Constitution prohibits using foreign law, but that have had the effect of ginning up anger against Muslims.
Some of the recent hate attacks include:
• On Sept. 7, unknown arsonists set fire to a rural grocery store in Clay County, N.C., that reportedly was owned by a Sikh family. Left behind was spray-painted graffiti, “911 Go Home.” Authorities were investigating the arson attack as an apparent hate crime.
• On Sept. 10, a Muslim imam in Bronx, N.Y., received a partially burned Koran at his mosque. The package also contained cartoons suggesting anti-Muslim hatred, according to reports.
• On the anniversary itself, a Muslim man went to a Houston bar called Petrol Station and ordered a hamburger to go. When he was given the to-go box, said Tarek Ghalayani, “Happy September 11th” was written on it, with the 11 formed by a drawing of the World Trade Center towers. Ghalayani said he and a friend were called “assholes” by a bartender, who was reportedly later fired.
• On Sept. 14, arsonists hit a dry cleaning business in Orangevale, Calif., leaving behind a scrawled swastika and the words “fuck Arab.” The owners, Arab Christians, suffered some $60,000 in damage to their business. The FBI was investigating the attack as a hate crime.
• Also in California, police in Elk Grove still have made no arrests in the double murder of two elderly Sikh men in March. Both men, shot while walking down the street, were wearing traditional Sikh turbans, which have caused some Americans to mistake Sikhs for Muslims.