Peninsula News

Sept. 11 changes life for Muslim Americans

Thursday, September 08, 2011

This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on America and on this anniversary the country is focusing on the victims and heroes of those horrific events. However, what is forgotten frequently is that life for the average Muslim American has changed forever.

Bhawana Kamil, Mohammed Nadeem and Hani Khan are all Muslim Americans living in the Bay Area and in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

"It was almost immediately instead of allowing us to go through the natural grief of what happened to our country and what happened to our fellow citizens; immediately we were put under the spotlight and had to shift our attention away from that grief," said Kamil.

Many followers of Islam have used that spotlight to educate people about the truth of their religion. Nadeem has engaged his community by serving as a civil services commissioner and next year will make his second bid for a city council seat in Santa Clara.

"I think you know by giving a point of view that we are part of this American fabric, a part of this society, and we are here to stay and we want to contribute and make a significant difference," said Nadeem.

Even a decade after the terrorist attacks, many face a lingering backlash. A recent in depth poll by the Pew Research Center revealed 43 percent of all Muslim Americans surveyed said they had personally experienced harassment in the past year.

Kahn of Foster City says she was fired from her job last year for not removing her Muslim headscarf, called a hijab. Abercrombie and Fitch which owns the Hollister store where Khan worked faces other similar lawsuits.

"For another person to take offense to it, it bothered me a lot because it's not harming them, it's not doing anything, it's just a symbol of modesty and a symbol of who I am," said Kahn.

Despite organized efforts to show the true face of Islam, there is still work to be done.

"Our office in the Bay Area, as an example, receives over 200 complaints each year from individuals in the community who are complaining of employment discrimination, school bulling, targeting by law enforcement," said Zahra Billoo, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

Kamil is encouraged that numerous groups promoting peace are now speaking with one voice.

"We do have our differences but those differences really enrich our society and we learn from each other," said Kamil.

Many Muslim Americans say they are living today with faith and patience.

Special Coverage:
ABC7 News will carry special coverage of the nation's commemoration of 9/11. Beginning Friday, Wayne Freedman will report live from New York City and Lilian Kim from Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

On Sunday, ABC News begins our live coverage of the September 11th ceremonies with a special edition of Good Morning America from 5 a.m. - 8 a.m. and that will be followed by ABC 7 Morning News from 8 a.m. - 10 a.m.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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september 11th, racial profiling, peninsula news, karina rusk
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