More than 10 years have passed since the Twin Towers in the USA were bombed on Sep. 11, 2001. But the anti-Islamic sentiment, deemed ‘Islamophobia’, continues to grip a majority of the populace in the West, especially in America.
According to a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in the US in 2010, 45 per cent of the populace still believed that Islamic values were in conflict with American values.
“Those are the kind of notions we try to remove, so they understand Islam without any misconceptions,” said Asim Rehman, president of the Muslim Bar Association of New York (MUBANY), while speaking to reporters during an interaction here at the US consulate on Wednesday.
Rehman, who is in India on a tour, stated that post the 9/11 attacks, the Muslim population faced difficulties. “The police there began to infiltrate mosques and other places where Muslims gathered, to collect information. Although many Muslims were questioned on suspicion immediately after the attacks, that trend has subsided now,” he explained.
Another study by Gallup Poll, a company that regularly conducts studies, revealed that 45 per cent Americans admitted to be prejudiced against Muslims. “After the attacks, there were different forms of discriminations, such as those in work places problems or people not hiring Muslims at all in their establishments,” Rehman mentioned. He added that even government policies were framed in such a way that it scrutinized the Muslims there. “However, the justice system is very strong, and right now, people are slowly understanding the community. We also have very strong civil liberty societies there which help the community,” he informed.
Rehman, who is from Pakistan, added that Muslims were viewed as one community as against Indian Muslims or Pakistani Muslims.
“Even in colleges and schools, the Sunni and Shia muslims all work together. Any ill-feeling doesn’t lead to violence,” he ascertained.
He however admitted that youngsters in the US face an identity problem as they struggle to strike a balance between maintaining their religion and being an American. “Immediately after the attack, there were incidents of violence or hate crimes, which were a direct result of people blaming Muslims for what happened. It was all mostly due to dissemination of wrong information,” Rehman noted.
The lawyer, who is also on the Multicultural Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, noted that after the terror attacks in the US, some people decided to just blame Islam, because of which Islamophobia spread. “Lot of people even made careers out of it. So that’s what we’re challenging, by taking on the wrong information through the legal system,” Rehman said.