Aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack
Attacks on Muslims and others
||" '...the FBI has found little evidence so far that the teams of
received much support here [in the U.S.],' sources said." 9
||" 'There seems to be no U.S. mastermind,' one official said." 9
||"These shameful acts against men, women and children targeted
because of their religious beliefs, ethnicity or national origin violate
basic principles of human rights and justice. Misguided violence at the
hands of a few dishonors the nation's legitimate anger and shock
over the immense loss of life and destruction from the September 11
attacks in the United States. Since Sept. 11, monitoring groups around the
country have received several hundred complaints alleging crimes
apparently motivated by bias and hate." Human Rights Watch, news
||"...those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to
take out their anger don't represent the best of America, they represent
the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of
behavior." George W. Bush, during a visit to the Islamic Center in
Washington DC on 2001-SEP-17
Looking back to the Oklahoma City bombing, 1995-APR-19:
Many people believe in the concept of collective responsibility: that all persons of a particular group -- whether they be of a particular
gender, age, nationality, religion, sexual orientation etc. -- are
responsible for any evil deed perpetrated by one individual in
the group. Thus when incorrect rumors circulated that Muslims had bombed the
Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, OK, some people
searched for Muslims that they could assault, or for mosques that they could
attack. Any Muslim or any mosque was acceptable to satisfy their rage.
Shortly after the bombing, TV
and radio newscasters speculated that the terrorist act had the markings of
a Middle Eastern perpetrator:
||Washington-based journalist Steven Emerson allegedly said on a
national news program that the bombing "...was done with the intent of
inflicting as many casualties as possible. That is a Middle Eastern trait."
One day after the bombing, Bob Grant of the Bob Grant Show responded
to a caller who suggested that there was no evidence that the terrorists
were Muslim. Grant allegedly commented:
"...in the Oklahoma case...the
indications are that those people who did it were some Muslim terrorists.
But a skunk like you. ...What I'd like to do is put you up against the
wall with the rest of them, and mow you down along with them. Execute you
with them. Because you obviously have a great hatred for America,
otherwise you wouldn't talk the way you talk, you imbecile."
||In their coverage of the bombing, the New York Times commented:
"Some Middle Eastern groups have held meetings there (Oklahoma), and
the city is home to at least three mosques." Mere presence of a
conference or mosque in the city was deemed to be suggestive of an
involvement in a mass murder.
Even after McVeigh was arrested and the government identified two
white males as perpetrators, CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer insisted that
"there is still a possibility that there could have been some sort of
connection to Middle East terrorism. One law enforcement source tells me
that there's a possibility that they (the Caucasian suspects) may have
been contracted out as freelancers to go out and rent this truck that was
used in the bombing."
A lot of people seemed to agree with this media speculation. Within two
days after the Oklahoma City bombing, there were hundreds of recorded
instances of harassment and hate crimes against Muslims, Arabs,
Iraqis, people who appeared to be Muslims, and Muslim organizations and
buildings. Two days after the explosion, Timothy McVeigh was arrested. But
the anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and anti- Iraqi attacks continued for weeks. 2 One Muslim woman miscarried after being
attacked. Local Muslims later asked to participate in a mass
memorial service led by the Governor. They were refused. However, Muslim
delegations from other areas of the country were allowed to attend. The
service was entirely Judeo-Christian in format.
What reaction did Muslims and their organizations have in the Oklahoma
City bombing? Lots:
||"...within hours of the explosion, dozens of Muslim organizations
around the country issued statements condemning the bombing in the
strongest terms possible." 2
||The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a
nation-wide Muslim group, held a blood drive, and donated $7,500 to
disaster relief organizations.
||Fifty Holy Land Foundation volunteers flew to Oklahoma City to
assist local charities.
||Muslims met with the governor and presented him with checks totaling
$21,000 for the Victims Relief Fund.
There was minimal coverage in the media of these positive acts.
The New York & Pentagon bombings, 2001-SEP-11:
Media reporters were initially cautious about laying blame for this
tragedy. There was some occasional speculation that American militia groups,
Colombian drug barons, or terrorists from the Middle East were involved. But
the reporters generally stressed that there was no hard evidence within the
first few hours after the bombing which might lead to the identity of the
perpetrators. However, many North Americans seem to have believed that
Muslims were responsible.
Within 36 hours of the bombing, attacks began on persons and mosques
which were totally unrelated to the attacks:
||Six bullets shattered windows of a mosque in Irving, TX. $3,000 in
damage was caused.
||A bag filled with blood and labeled 'Pig's blood' was
thrown at the door of a mosque in San Francisco, CA.
||Four bricks were thrown through the windows of a Muslim bookstore
in Alexandria, VA. Also in Virginia, two mosques reported
||In Canada, the front doors at mosques in St. Catherines, ON and Montreal, PQ
were fire-bombed, with minimal damage.
||The British Broadcasting Commission (BBC) reported that there had
been many death threats and assaults against Muslims.
Continuing harassment and attacks:
By 2001-SEP-25, three weeks after the attack, there had been many assaults on
Muslims in the U.S. In addition, Sikhs are being targeted because some are being
mistaken for Muslims. Hispanic-Americans have been harassed, presumably because
of their skin color. One Egyptian Copt was murdered. Even members of the Baha'i Faith have been harassed. It is ironic that Baha'is are themselves
viciously persecuted in Iran, and Christian Copts are oppressed in Egypt.
Some examples were:
||On the afternoon of Saturday, 2001-SEP-15, a gunman killed the 49 year
old owner of a gas station in Mesa, AZ. He was a Sikh. His family believes
that he was killed because he "looked Middle Eastern."
Additional shots were fired at a Lebanese clerk and at the home of an
||On the evening of Saturday, 2001-SEP-15, a gunman killed a Pakistani
Muslim store owner in Dallas, TX.
||Adel Karas, 48, an Egyptian-American grocer was shot and killed near
his International Market store in San Gabriel, CA. He was a Copt --
neither Muslim nor Arab. No money was
taken. Police are investigating the murder as a possible hate crime.
||A man drove his car through the front entrance of Parma Mosque in
||Also on Saturday, a Christian of Egyptian origin was shot dead in
||Near Chicago, IL, there was a march in which about 300 anti-Arab youths waved
flags, shouted "USA, USA," and attempted to march on a
mosque in Bridgeview, IL -- a suburb southwest of Chicago. Colin Zaremba,
19, said: "I'm proud to be American and I hate Arabs and I always have." Three demonstrators were arrested.
||In Chicago, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Arab-American community
center. There were no injuries and little damage.
||In Huntington, NY, Adam Lang, reportedly a drunken driver, 75,
allegedly tried to kill a Pakistani
woman with his car. He later followed the woman into a store and
threatened to kill her for "destroying my country."
||In Gary, IN, a man wearing a mask pumped over 20 bullets from a
high-powered assault rifle at a Muslim, Hassan Awdah. He survived. Hassan
is a U.S. citizen, born in Yemen.
||In Lynnwood, WA, a mosque was vandalized.
||In Suffolk County, NY, a man allegedly made anti-Arab threats and
pointed a handgun at the employee of a gas station. He was arrested.
||In a prison in Washington state, two inmates fought over an
||a gasoline bomb was thrown into the home of a Sikh family in
||Two mosques were firebombed with Molotov cocktails during the weekend
of OCT-20-21. They are located in Burlington and Mississauga, near Toronto
ON Canada. Kendrich House, 35, from Oakville ON has allegedly been
Muslims elsewhere in the English speaking world were also targeted:
||A 15 year old boy in Ottawa, Canada was attacked by a gang and badly injured.
||The Samaj Hindu temple in Hamilton, ON, Canada was firebombed by an arsonist,
causing $600,000 in damages. Police speculate that
the perpetrator mistook the temple for a mosque.
||Firebomb attacks on other Canadian mosques causing minimal damage occurred in Montreal,
Quebec, St. Catherines, ON and Oshawa, ON.
||In Australia, a school bus containing Muslim children was stoned.
||Vandals tried set fire to a Lebanese Christian church, also in
Five days after the attack, the number of anti-Muslim incidents reported
to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reached 210. 8 By SEP-20, 9 days after the attack, Nihad Awad, executive director of the
CAIR said: "...The bigoted acts of a small minority are creating an
atmosphere of apprehension and fear." Their total of documented
first-hand reports of intolerant acts reached 500. The more serious
incidences are being investigated by the police as hate crimes.
Countless angry looks, obscene gestures, hate messages in Internet chat rooms and
elsewhere on the Internet, bomb and other threats via telephone have
targeted Muslim and Arab-Americans.
We will update this essay as more information becomes available.
Americans, Canadians, and sympathetic citizens of countries worldwide went to
their church, mosque, synagogue, temple or other place of worship. Many had not
darkened the door of a place of worship in decades.
A common theme of many services was to show support for the people of New
York City and Washington, to pray for the families and friends who have lost
loved ones. At St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Chandler, AZ, the
congregation also prayed "for Americans who are attacking Arab-Americans."
Attendee Martha Rodriguez said that she hopes those involved in the
anti-Muslim/anti-Arab backlash realize that prejudice is ignorant and that
Arab-Americans had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks. 3 At Masjid Jauharatul-Islam mosque in south Phoenix, AZ, the resident imam
Abdur-Rahim Shamsiddeen told worshipers they now represent Islam more than
ever. he said that the only response to prejudice from others is to live a
godly life. "We're going to propagate this religious form like never
before. We're going to live more like Muslims." 3 All of this was repeated thousands of times across the U.S. and in other
Some individuals and media reporters are calling for calm, lest the
atrocities by the American and Canadian governments during World War II
against 120,000 Japanese-Americans and 22,000 Japanese-Canadians be
repeated. They were forced to leave their homes and go to internment camps.
James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said: "We don't
want to be excluded or insulated or treated how Japanese-Americans were
treated. It's very important right now for Arab-Americans that their loyalty
never be brought into question. We are Americans first." 5
President George W. Bush visited a mosque in Washington DC; Prime
Minister Jean Chrétien of Canada visited a
mosque in Ottawa, ON, Canada; Governor Bob Taft toured the Masjid Saad
mosque and school in Toledo, OH.
Hitbox.com has traditionally rated this web site as the most visited
religious site on the Internet. The web site "About Islam and Muslims"
took over this position shortly after the terrorist attack. They normally
are in the #3 position. Their site provides "accurate
information about Islamic Beliefs, history and civilization for
Muslims and Non-Muslims" at: http://www.unn.ac.uk/societies/islamic/
This shows that there are a lot of people out there who are
interested in learning about Islam.
It could have been a lot worse:
The murders, attempted murders, many ineffectual firebombings and shootings at
mosques, and countless less serious instances of harassment are certainly serious.
However, the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim backlash could have been much worse.
The pleas by religious, government and media leaders that Americans to pull
together and to avoid stereotyping may well have prevented a much greater
display of blind rage.
Journalist Tim Cavanaugh commented: "The pleas for compassion, the
chilling reminders that our natures contain darker angels, and the
overriding editorial caution may be somewhat overstated, but if repetition
serves the purpose of keeping peace in the streets, it all may be worth it.
Sometimes the only way to fight a kneejerk reaction is with a kneejerk
- Council on American-Islamic Relations, "Rush to Judgment: A special
report on the anti-Muslim stereotyping harassment and hate crimes following
the bombing of Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal Building, April 19, 1995,"
Diane Publishing, (1995) Out of print.
- Aida Wazwaz, "Muslims victims of Oklahoma bombing too," The
Minnesota Daily Online, 1997-APR-28. See: http://www.daily.umn.edu/daily/
- Melanie Coffee, "Crowd protests at Illinois Mosque," Associated
Press, 2001-SEP-13, at: http://us.news2.yimg.com/
- "Shedding the weight of terrorism: Valley residents unite for worship,
remembrance," The Arizona Republic, 2001-SEP-15. See: http://www.arizonarepublic.com/arizona/
- Deborah Kong, "Arab-Americans fear backlash," Associated Press, at: http://us.news2.yimg.com/
- "Governor Gary Locke's remarks: Memorial tribute at Puyallup Fair
Grounds," 2001-SEP-12. See: http://www.governor.wa.gov/speeches/
- Tim Cavanaugh, "The backlash that almost wasn't," Online Journalism
Review, 2001-SEP-14, at: http://ojr.usc.edu/content/story.cfm?request=640
- The Council on American-Islamic Relations has a web site at: http://www.cair-net.org/
- Quotations from The Washington Post, 2001-SEP-29
Copyright © 2001 to 2013by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-SEP-12
Latest update: 2013-JAN-27
Author: B.A. Robinson
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