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Chronicling the 9/11 Terror Attacks: For How Long Will Muslim Americans Battle Islamophobia?


Days after the deadly September 20, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, the United States (US) administration vowed to deal with al-Qaeda terror groups who killed thousands of its citizens. On September 20, 2001, George Bush said that the perpetrators of the heinous attack that killed thousands of people should be sought and defeated. These remarks fueled Anti-Muslim movements that portrayed all Muslims as potential terrorists. In fact, according to FBI reports, there has been an upsurge of hate crimes against Muslim Americans after the 9/11 terror incident. Accordingly, the 9/11 terror attacks ushered in Islamophobia among Muslim Americans. This xenophobic commentary has dominated headlines, and recently Aljazeera captured this story on the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks Herein, this paper analyses the Islamophobia incidences after the 9/11 attacks on four planes and their implications on American Muslims’ physical health.

September 11, 2001 Terror Attack in the US

After the spectacular 9/11 incident, terror became one of the most crucial parts of US history. Prior scholarly works have been conducted to explore the link between radicalization and terror attacks, the spread of hate, and unfavorable attributes towards a particular segment (Schuurman et al., 2019, p.772). Radicalization is when a passive individual becomes more extremist, militant, or revolutionary and is often associated with a terrorist. After the spectacular terrorist attacks, renowned as the 9/11 attacks in the US, many scholars have focused on terrorism, particularly on the characteristics of terrorists and the supply of terrorism manpower (Fair & Shepherd, 2006, p. 51). The individuals of the al-Qaeda terror group perceived and experienced political and personal grievances triggering them towards a terror attack on the US.

Nineteen Islamic terrorists launched deadly suicide attacks on four planes, resulting in the death of all the passengers in September 2001. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the incident, and 21 years after, the US is still susceptible to terror attacks, although more vigilant. However, the powers of the terrorist that launched the 9/11 attacks have been weakened, splintered, and reduced. However, their goal of eradicating the US economic and political power is still unfulfilled (“Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle Islamophobia in US,” 2022). Consequently, popular news outlets such as Aljazeera have investigated how Islamophobia has manifested in the United States and European societies. The Aljazeera report published on September 11, 2022, entitled “Decades after 9/11 Muslims battle Islamophobia in the US”, presented concerns about the spread of propaganda and fear among Muslim Americans.

Muslim Ban is Racist

Much has been written about the declining relationship between Muslim countries and the US. The US government withdrew its troops from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. There was also executive order 13769 on the Muslim travel ban implemented by Donald Trump, which significantly affected six nations in Asia and Africa. After the US supreme court upheld Trump’s executive order on the Muslim travel ban, most Muslim countries protested this decision, and so did Muslim representatives in the US (“Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle Islamophobia in US,” 2022). Many critics labeled this executive order a “Muslim ban” since it created an atmosphere of spreading nativism and fear within the Muslim community.

Islamophobia, also referred to as prejudice or dislike against Muslims or Islam, sky-rocketed in the US after the 9/11 terror attacks. Hussam Ayloush, an executive director for the Council of America-Islamic Relations (CA-IR), pointed out that some organizations and groups of people benefit from perpetuating hate against Muslim Americans and Islamophobia. According to Ayloush, the painful consequences of the 9/11 attack aftermath are still felt to date: “Twenty-one years after the attacks, Muslims continue to face the threat of target violence.”

For more than two decades, Americans have continued labeling Muslims as terrorists. Academic reports on how Muslim lawyers, teachers, doctors, and business owners positively contribute to the American economy are scarce if any. Oddly, American politicians have also legitimized labeling Muslims as terrorists by authorizing deportations, massive surveillance, and prosecution of Muslims (“Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle Islamophobia in US,” 2022). Whether Democratic or Republican, American administrations have consistently conveyed that Muslims are security threats. Fearmongering through Islamophobia and Xenophobia was further exacerbated by Donald Trump in March 2016 by claiming that American Muslims are a great threat to American security and wanted them to be denied entry into the US.

After being elected to office, Donald Trump ordered the Muslim ban. It was a contradiction that America being a country that proclaims religious freedom, their political leaders legitimized discrimination and mistreatment of Muslims, along with other minority groups, including Native Americans, Black Americans, and other non-Whites (“Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle Islamophobia in US,” 2022). Although the current US administration overturned the Muslim travel ban, the Muslims in the US are still recuperating the ramifications of the earlier administration. Muslims became subjects of public consumption; their religious identity was racialized and faced scrutiny from the American community. The consequences of marginalization negatively impacted their mental health and self-image and led to the separation of families.

Islamophobia and Health

The Paris attacks in 2015 further precipitated unfavorable attitudes towards American Muslims. The CA-IR reported a spike in violence, threats, and discrimination, such as denial of employment and other life opportunities targeting American Muslims (“Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle Islamophobia in US,” 2022). From the perspective of health outcomes, Islamophobia subjected Muslims in America to severe risk factors for ill-being. The determinants and fundamental causes of poor health for Islamophobia include discrimination and stigma.

Stigma experienced by American Muslims involved status loss, stereotyping, and discrimination. Islamophobia sanctioned stereotypes and dehumanizing representation through immigration policies, identity concealment, and hate crimes (“Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle Islamophobia in US,” 2022). Consequently, Muslim Arab Americans lived with anxiety about the future, stigmatization, isolation, and loss of community, and they became anxious about the future of their safety and wellbeing.

Across a myriad of contexts, American Muslims were subjected to discrimination through unfair treatment, whether due to social reasons or race. The inevitable implication of this discrimination is that this form of Islamophobia adversely affects their mental and physical health and results in health disparities (Piazza, 2011, p.341). The adverse health outcomes associated with discrimination included high blood pressure, poor sleep, cognitive impairment, anxiety, reticence to help-seeking, and violence.

Confronting Islamophobia

Islamophobia is a strong force of reality that has become intractable for decades, even before the 9/11 attacks. Additionally, Muslims will not be the only segment subjected to dehumanizing profiling and marginalization (Horgan, 2008, p. 83). The government’s efforts to counter terrorism through implementing policies have led to discrimination of particular groups along racial lines. The post-9/11 era registered significant research topics geared toward studying the link between terrorist activities (Hofmann, 2020, p.657). Consequently, worrying trends of stigmatization and discrimination have compelled civil society actors and Muslim individuals to conduct surveillance in the US.

As hate crimes spiked in the US, the FBI began gathering information to confront the rise in Islamophobia. The Aljazeera news article reported that the FBI recorded 219 Anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2019 compared to 28 such incidents in 2000. After nearly 3 000 people died, the US government enacted policies to track Americans’ phone and online communications to combat terrorism (“Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle Islamophobia in US,” 2022). Islamophobia is a phenomenon that shows no recession; however, Ayloush posits that holding individuals of their hateful words, bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and actions, whether at the airport or border, is the best way to combat it.


In summary, the 21st century can be described as a terrorism age, enshrined in the spread of fear among the masses and propaganda. Many studies have defined terrorism from different perspectives. However, the consensus among prior authors is that terrorism is a threat or violence catapulted to a society perpetrated by individuals with political motives or goals. Muslim leaders have created movements that have resulted in extremists, radicals, and evoking fear among societies. Al-Qaeda, for instance, is a terror group that caused fear among Americans causing Islamophobia that has dramatically spread and exacerbated society’s stigma. Although terror can be caused by non-Muslims or non-Islam, the acquisitions create intense fear within society. The patterns of terrorism indicate that they are predominant in extremists in Muslim states.

The news article captured by Aljazeera indicates that despite the increased awareness of the prevalence of Islamophobia in the US, almost nothing has been done to stop it since even the US leaders have publicly profiled American Muslims in their campaigns and their executive orders. However, feasible approaches can be adopted so American Muslims can stop battling Islamophobia. One is to advocate against federal policies, xenophobia, and anti-Islamic state. Secondly, establish friendly relationships with Muslims to alleviate their feeling of isolation. The third is to learn about Islamophobia and propose movements to counter Islamophobia and stand in solidarity with Muslim communities in our local areas.


Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle Islamophobia in US. (2022, September 11). Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera. Accessed September, 19 2022.

Fair, C. C., & Shepherd, B. (2006). Who supports terrorism? Evidence from fourteen Muslim countries. Coastal Management, 29(1), 51-74.

Hofmann, D. C. (2020). How “alone” are lone-actors? Exploring the ideological, signaling, and support networks of lone-actor terrorists. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 43(7), 657-678.

Horgan, J. (2008). From profiles to pathways and roots to routes: Perspectives from psychology on radicalization into terrorism. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 618(1), 80-94.

Piazza, J. A. (2011). Poverty, minority economic discrimination, and domestic terrorism. Journal of Peace Research, 48(3), 339-353.

Schuurman, B., Lindekilde, L., Malthaner, S., O’Connor, F., Gill, P., & Bouhana, N. (2019). End of the lone wolf: The typology that should not have been. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 42(8), 771-778.


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