"Why Didn't They Ask Us?": Memories Of Muslim Young Adults In Public Schools In The U. S. September 11, 2001




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Urban & Public Affairs


Where were you on September 11, 2001? How did that day change your life? How would you remember September 11, 2001 if you were a young Muslim in the United States during this time, if you become the "enemy"? Young adult Muslims are different from their older generation and from other young religious adults, having become more religious in their twenties. This study focuses on perceived Islamophobia that Muslim students report encountering in public schools, as well as in the larger community, particularly while traveling, resulting from public policies in response to September 11, specifically the Patriot Act. The methodology used to access young Muslims and their views on Islamophobia include recruitment through Facebook, a social networking site, and online surveys. The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the heightened religiosity or ingroup cohesion of Muslims post-9/11 through their collective memories of their years in public schools, as well as the consequences of the Patriot Act on their adolescence These questions concerning Islamophobia were explored in terms of gender, hijab, race, and migration generation. The results indicate that females experience less severe experiences of Islamophobia from the Patriot Act as compared to males, and fewer problems in public schools. Females did report that wearing hijab increased profiling at airports and the harshest narratives of harassment in schools of those reported by females. Of these young Muslims, racially self-identified Whites describe the anti-Muslim bias of the Patriot Act. The respondents who are second generation Muslim-Americans reported experiencing increased Islamophobia both as a result of the Patriot Act and in school. This increased Islamophobia related to a stronger ingroup cohesion.The selective acculturation process of these second generation Muslim-Americans appears to be have been interrupted in terrorized assimilation, in which these young people who were developing their identity became the enemy. The young Muslim study participants proposed a number of policy recommendations as a result of their experiences in public schools, specifically in regards to halal. They want to be able to pray in a reasonable space, to have halal food and be able to avoid pork, to celebrate their holidays and fasts, and for the girls to be able to wear hijab. They want their teachers and administrators to be aware of their religion and culture, both in our current world and the historical advances of the Muslim world. They ask that opportunities for open discussions between Muslim students and teachers be created. In other words, they ask for the same things that all of our children desire.