Religious Intolerance: Exploring Muslim America, Post-9/11

By Kayla Gaudet


Photo from NBC News – “Hidayah Martinez Jaka…Dec. 11, 2015 in Sterling, Va. – Anadolu Agency via Getty Images”


September 11th, 2001 is widely regarded as a bleak day in American history. Across the nation and globe, many mourned the loss of over 3,000 lives. Over 6,000 more were injured. However, this day also serves as a marker for change in the lives of Muslims and Muslim Americans. After the 9/11 attacks, religious intolerance towards Muslims rose sharply. Although the United States is a nation that boasts religious freedom, many found it unsafe to practice Islam. Throughout the country, Muslim women retired their Hijabs and headdresses in fear of harm and men considered shaving their beards. Since September 11th, national security, immigration policy, and terrorism have been at the forefront of every politician’s campaign. During the 2016 presidential election, we saw issues such as potential immigration reform for entering Muslims and fighting against ISIS and other terrorist groups become [again] hot topics  for many candidates. 

This research guide serves as an aid to explore Muslim America post-9/11. The scholastic journals, accessed through JSTOR, provide short, but informed analysis the Muslim community and the effects that 9/11 had on them. The books provide a more detailed and in-depth look at the struggles Muslim Americans face[d] during this time period. The online sources, which are a combination of news articles and blog-esque articles, explore a variety of topics including at-the-time-relevant headlines, opinions, analyzations, and more. The interviews and videos provide a direct view into Muslim life, by Muslim Americans. The reports and cases provide solid evidence of the effects of 9/11.


Disha, Ilir; Cavendish, James C.; & King, Ryan D. “Historical Events and Spaces of Hate: Hate Crimes against Arabs and Muslims in Post-9/11 America.” Social Problems. Volume 58. Issue 1. (February 2011): pp. 21-46.

Disha, Cavendish, and King, investigate hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs in the United States. Their insight explores hate crime before and after 9/11. In their journal, they focus on four key questions: ‘What were the determinants of anti-Arab and Muslim hate crimes prior to 9/11?’, ‘In what social contexts were Arabs and Muslims at greatest risk of victimization?’, ‘To what extent did hate crimes against these groups increase after the terrorist attacks?’, and ‘Did the predictors of hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims change appreciably after 9/11?’. Their research shows that hate crimes have increased while ‘structural determinants and geographic concentration of these crimes remained largely consistent’. This source is useful for understanding the state of Muslims in America prior to September 11th and also the effects that it had on the Muslim Community.

Dole, Christopher. “Security and Insecurity in a Global “War on Terrorism”: Arab-Muslim Immigrant Experience in Post-9/11 America.” International Migration and Human Rights: The Global Repercussions of U.S. Policy. University of California Press, 2009Pp. 117-132.

This article is the 6th section of the book International Migration and Human Rights: The Global Repercussions of U.S. Policy . The sections is titled ‘Security and Insecurity in a Global “War on Terrorism”: Arab-Muslim Immigrant Experience in Post-9/11 America‘ and is written by Christopher Dole. Dole uses testimonies to focus on how America handles national security after the September 11th attacks. It explores the increasing uneasiness of Arab-Muslim immigrants, as they relate the terror in their homelands to current events that are unfolding. This source provides insight to ‘the war on terror’ and how U.S. foreign policies affect Muslims.

Rodriguez, Robyn M. “(Dis)unity and Diversity in Post 9/11 America.” Sociological Forum. Volume 23. Issue 2. (June 2008): pp. 379-389.

Robyn M. Rodriguez explores the impact of 9/11 on Muslims and immigration policy. She examines the immigration policy of 2001 and of then-present day. By doing this, Rodriguez explains how the increase in border security and increase in regulations have a negative effect on the country and in particular, normal Muslim people. This source is useful for understanding the precautions the Unites States has taken and where there may be faults or how some precautions backfired.

Welch, Michael. “Hate Crimes as Backlash Violence.” Scapegoats of September 11th: Hate Crimes & State Crimes in the War on Terror. Rutgers University Press, 2006. Pp. 62-76.

This article is the 5th chapter of the book Scapegoats of September 11th: Hate Crimes & State Crimes in the War on Terror by Michael Welch. In the opening of this chapter, Welch quotes a section ab from Orwell’s book, 1984. The quote talks about a “Daily Two Minutes of Hate” which Welch then connects back to real-life. He explores religious hostility and what can fuel it and further delves into hate crimes as a result of the September 11th plane crashes. This source can be used to approach and analyze why hate crimes towards Muslims occur.


Lee, Suzanne. “New Report Documents Increased Hate Crimes and Intolerance.” 3/11/2002.

This article from The Leadership Conference, a human and civil rights group, gives a glimpse into the 2002 world. The article is National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium (NAPALC) report that provides data of hate crimes committed since 9/11. The NAPALC talks about backlash from not only hate groups, but some of their partner groups. There is also discussion of crimes committed at school and work toward Muslims. This source is useful for collecting data and statistics.

Clay, Rebecca A. “Muslims in America, Post 9/11.” September 2011. Print version: Volume 42. Number 8. Page 72.

This article from the American Psychological Association (APA) explores the psychological aspect of 9/11 on Muslims. It discusses key points such as the psychological impact, coping mechanisms, and what the next generation of Muslim Americans (those born after 9/11) could face. Clay talks about depression, PTSD, and anxiety within the Muslim community. This source provides insight to the mental effects that 9/11 and the ongoing hate cause Muslims.

McCaskill, Nolan D. “FBI: Hate Crimes Against Muslims in U.S. Jump 67 Percent in 2015.” 11/14/16.

Nolan D. McCaskill, writing for Politico, reiterates and summarizes the FBI’s 2015 Uniform Crime Report (UCR). The report shows a 67% jump in hate crimes against Muslim Americans in the year 2015. A similar CNN article can be found here, as well as one for The Washington Post here. These sources are important for comparing data results and provide data from the government (the FBI).

Lichtblau, Eric. “U.S. Hate Crimes Surge 6%, Fueled by Attacks on Muslims.” 11/14/2016

Similar to the article above, this article, written by Eric Lichtblau for the New York Times, reiterates and summarizes the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Report (UCR). This report shows a 6% increase in hate crimes from the year before. As a supplement, this New York Times addresses hate crimes against Muslims More deeply than statistics. These sources provide data and statistic from the government (FBI) and are useful for understanding trends.

Ayoub Ainslie, Shawna. “20 Ways 9/11 Changed My Life as an (American) Muslim.” 9/11/2016

This article is a personal view into the life of Shawna Ayoub Ainslie, a Muslim American. In just 20 points, she summarizes how the events of 9/11 have affected her day-to-day life. This article, written for The Huffington Post, can be considered an opinion piece, as it does not have much to do with data as it does with the Ayoub Ainslie’s personal feelings and thoughts. This article is an important aspect of capturing the real-life experiences and struggles Muslim Americans face.

Frumin, Aliyah & Sakuma, Amanda. “Hope and Despair: Being Muslim in America after 9/11.” 9/11/2016.

This piece for NBC News by Aliyah Frumin and Amanda Sakuma is a 9/11 15th anniversary piece. It covers a wide variety of topics including hate crimes, backlash, Gitmo, and more. There are also several videos imbedded in the article, each relating to said topics. This article is useful as a retrospective of the past 15 years.


Grewal, Zareena. Islam is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority. NYU Press, 2013.

In her book, Grewal focuses on the relationship of Muslim Americans with the world. She follows Muslim American youth as they travel the world in order to find a place they can safely call home. She asks questions such as ‘What does it mean to be Muslim and American?’, ‘Who has the authority to speak for Islam and to lead the stunningly diverse population of American Muslims?’ and ‘Do their ties to the larger Muslim world undermine their efforts to make Islam an American religion?’. This book is useful for understanding what the life of a Muslim American who does not feel like they belong in America is like.

Kaplan, Jeffrey. Islamophobia in America?: September 11 and Islamophobic Hate Crime. 2013.

In Islamophobia in America? Kaplan investigates the sharp rise and decline in Muslim-oriented hate crimes after 9/11. As for the fall in hate crimes, Kaplan explains it with 4 factors: 1) Leadership in the form of effective intervention by the U.S. President; 2) Decisive law enforcement intervention on the federal and local levels; 3) Grassroots outreach to Muslims by religious, civic and educational groups; and much more tentatively; 4) Moral ambiguity in the rapid dissolution of American consensus over the War on Terror following the invasion of Iraq. Kaplan also compares the present-day situation to historical examples, such as the bombing of Pear Harbor and the Red Scare. This source can be used not only to understand the motives behind hate crimes, but the trends as well.

Esposito, John L. & Kalin, Ibrahim. Islamophobia: Changes of Pluralism in the 21st Century. Oxford University Press: 2011.

This book is a collection of essays put together by John L. Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin. Together, they explore a little bit of the history of Islamophobia, both pre- and post-9/11. In this book is also an analysis of policies that have been or are in place. They also offer recommendation. This source is excellent for understanding the origins of Islamophobia and beginning conversation on how it can be resolved.

Helbling, Marc. Islamophobia in the West: Measuring and Explaining Individual Attitudes. Routledge: 2012

Helbling’s book explores how states react to Islamic migration and provides an in-depth examination of Islamophobia in the U.S. It also asks key questions such as ‘What exactly is Islamophobia and how can we measure it?’, ‘How is it related to similar social phenomena, such as xenophobia?’, “How widespread are Islamophobic attitudes, and how can they be explained?, and ‘How are Muslims different from other outgroups and what role does terrorism and 9/11 play?’. This book provides insight to where Islam fits in the United States and Western Europe.


Desmond-Harris Jenée. “9 Devastating, Revealing Stories of being Muslim in Post-9/11 America”. 9/11/16

This article for Vox by Jenée Desmond-Harris covers the stories of 9 Muslim Americans and the struggles and issues that they faced after September 11th. This source provides a personal and intimate insight to the challenges Muslim Americans face.

PBS Newshour. “How 9/11 Shaped the Lives of American Muslims.” PBS. September 11, 2011.

This video interview covers the lives of Muslims in modern America. This ten minute video gives an overview of how 9/11 effected Muslims in the Unites States. This source is excellent for learning how Muslims reacted and how that eventful day impacted their lives.

ResearchChannel. “Muslims in America.” Pennsylvania State Universtiy. 2/9/2008.

Pennsylvania State University produced an hourlong panel that questioned Muslims in America. This interview provides details into the personal lives of different Muslim Americans. This source is a good insight to how Muslim generations differ in thought.


“Anti-Muslim Incidents Since Sept.11, 2001.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 3/29/2011

This source is a list of anti-Muslim incidents since 9/11. It was submitted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. Another list such as this one, comprised of pending and resolved lawsuits, can be found here. This source provides a comprehensive list of all crimes relating to Muslim Americans due to their religion.

State of Arizona v. Frank Silva Roque

This is an appeals docket for Frank Silva Roque, who was charged with murdering an innocent man on the grounds that he was [mistakenly] Muslim. Two other examples of Muslim-oriented hate crimes on this level include a New York woman who was sentenced to 24 years for pushing a man in front of a train and a Utah man who attempted to burn down a restaurant with the owners inside. This source is an excellent example of the extreme hate crimes against Muslims that have happened as a response to September 11th.

“Islamic Center Sues Town of Dudley Over Rejection of Proposed Cemetery.” WBUR News. 7/1/2016

This article describes the struggle of Muslims in Massachusetts who are being denied the right to make a burial ground. The town, who has the right to the land first, has denied buying it, but also will not allow the Islamic center to turn the empty land into a special cemetery for Muslims. The case is ongoing but is an example of Muslims being denied basic rights because of their religion.