Today’s the first September 11th since I’ve lived in New York City where, if I chose to, I could stay in my apartment all day because I’m currently unemployed, and I’m not in college anymore. I don’t think many people in general realize this, but I (and many other Muslims/Arabs/Middle Easterners/North Africans/South Asians that I know) have to spend the week before September 11th mentally preparing myself for a flood of dirty looks, racist comments and threats, and physical violence in the worst-case scenario. Every year before this year, I’ve gone out of my way to trim up my beard as short as I possibly could, and have made sure not to speak any Arabic in public, but I won’t be doing any of that this year.
I am a light-skinned Arab and a practicing Muslim. Despite the fact that my full legal name is 25 letters long and VERY Greek, Islamophobia and racism make it a normal occurrence for me to be pulled aside without fail for a “random search” when I have to fly because I fit the profile of what a “suspicious person” looks like.
Because of Islamophobia and racism, I was too afraid to walk home from my high school in suburban Florida, even though I lived five minutes away. I knew if I did I would hear people driving or walking past me shout things like terrorist, sand n****r, or towelhead, among others. I feared for my physical safety every time I had to do so.
Islamophobia and racism made a train car full of people stay silent while my mother and I were verbally harassed by someone for speaking in Arabic to each other coming home at 2 AM on a Friday night on the D line. We were told that we should “go back to fucking Palestine” so that “our people” would “stop taking over Brooklyn.” We were going over the Manhattan Bridge when this happened, so we had to just look away and silently take it in order to avoid a physical altercation. We switched train cars at the next stop, but we STILL got off two stops after ours and had to wait 20 minutes for the next train going in the opposite direction because we were afraid that the guy was going to follow us home.
Islamophobia and racism make many Lebanese and Syrian people, in addition to most of the non-Arabs and non-Muslims, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn openly complain about the Yemenis living in the neighborhood for wearing niqabs, or having long beards and wearing gallabiyas (basically looking “too Muslim”), for “ruining the neighborhood” and making it “filthy.”
Here are some great things you should remember especially for today, but really for any day of the year:
- Do NOT ask or expect a Muslim/Arab/Middle Easterner/North African/South Asian to apologize for something they had absolutely NOTHING to do with.
- Do NOT ask a Muslim/Arab/Middle Easterner/North African/South Asian how they feel about September 11th.
- ERASE any version of the following phrase from your vocabulary: “You should go back to where you came from.” If I had a dollar for the amount of times someone has said this to me, I’d be a millionaire. I was born in this country, I have as much right as everyone else to be here, and I am NOT planning on leaving anytime soon.
- If you see a Muslim/Arab/Middle Easterner/North African/South Asian being harassed by somebody, HELP THEM. I’m only speaking for myself here, but many times I’m too afraid to say or do anything about it for FEAR OF MY PHYSICAL SAFETY.
“We both realized they had been trying to set us up. So they didn’t have anything on us. They came for her early in the morning, too. They didn’t detain her parents, they just detained her. Tashnuba and I were then trying to figure out what was going on, what they were going to do, if they were going to release us.That’s when a lady walked in. She said, “What are you guys in for?We said, “We don’t know.I hear you guys did something What did we do?” We were asking her for information.She said, “We’re going to take you to Pennsylvania.Tashnuba and I looked at each other, like, Pennsylvania? I said, “What are we goingto do in Pennsylvania? She answered, “They didn’t tell you? There’s a detention center there.”
Click the photo to read the rest of one 16 year olds harrowing account of being, in effect kidnapped, and detained for months by FBI agents with no cause, no explanation and no legal recourse.
… And most people have no idea that it is now perfectly legal in the United States to arrest (“detain” is a ridiculous euphemism) any US citizen—not just Arabs and Muslims— and hold them indefinitely with no access to legal representation. They don’t have to justify it or explain why, ever.
pledge allegiance to all that bullshit that he learned in school
Design Action Collective has created this poster to celebrate the solidarity of Arab, African, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian (AAMEMSA) communities. Our communities are diverse, but have all been targeted similarly in this climate of Islamophobia. The ten year anniversary of 9/11 is upon us — this unique political moment is an opportunity to stand together and bring our strong, united voices to the national immigrant rights movement. [link]
Image designed by Sabiha Basri circa September 2011.
WARNING TO ALL MUSLIMS IN THE UK: Using the riots as a cover, the racist thugs at the EDL are planning on firebombing masjids around the UK. This is news directly off their private forums from trusted contacts. Plz ask all 2 be vigilant & ensure that others knw of this threat, plz copy and paste on your wall.
(seen this status on Facebook)