Those tensions can be traced back to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Al Qaeda, a radical Islamist group, staged the attacks. Almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania were killed. The attacks triggered the war in Afghanistan that continues to this day. They also left a deep wound on the American psyche. More recently, a series of smaller attacks in the U.S. have occurred. They’ve been carried out by individuals who say they were inspired by the Islamist terrorist group ISIS. These attacks have made more people fearful of Muslims.
These feelings have been intensified by the political environment in the U.S.
President Trump promised as a candidate to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. His administration has implemented a controversial ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries. The president and his supporters say the restrictions are necessary to protect the country from terrorism.
“We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” Trump said when he signed the executive order.
Amaney Jamal, a professor at Princeton University in New Jersey, says all this adds up to a “much more hostile, Islamophobic environment. Most Muslims will say it’s worse today than in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.”
In fact, 2016 saw a huge spike in the number of anti-Muslim assaults. Even more occurred that year than after the 9/11 attacks, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of F.B.I. crime data.
And many Americans either don’t know much about Islam or have incorrect information. Many young Muslims spend a lot of time correcting common misperceptions about Islam. One of the inaccurate perceptions is that the religion condones terrorism (it doesn’t). Another is that it denies women equal rights (it doesn’t, though many majority-Muslim cultures and countries do).