FIVE YEARS LATER, SUSPICION AND FEAR IN MUSLIM COMMUNITIES
The comments started as soon as Yumna Rizvi came back to school from spring break a couple of months ago looking … different.
“Oh, are you going terrorist on us now?” and “Don’t blow up the school!” came from people she considered her friends. Teachers started asking her if everything was OK.
Why all the attention? Because the 12-year-old Muslim girl decided she wanted to try wearing a hijab, the traditional scarf that covers a Muslim woman’s hair.
Yumna lasted about a month and a half. Finally, after her parents got nervous that she was making herself a target, the scarf came off.
“My parents were like, ‘You know, right now, the way the world is, we don’t think you should be doing this,” the Brooklyn girl said.
The way the world is now is not the way it was five years ago, before those four airplanes took off early on a Tuesday morning and irrevocably changed everything.
Among those caught up in the shockwaves of Sept. 11 were the country’s Muslims, followers of a faith that until then, had by and large existed under the radar of much of the American mainstream. No longer. Muslims, and Islam itself, came under intense scrutiny after the attacks. And not just scrutiny in some corners suspicion, distrust, fear.
The passing of five years has done little to dispel that; if anything, world events from the war in Iraq to bombings in Madrid and London have made that attention more intense. There have been calls for security profiling based on religion and ethnicity; at one point, special immigration registration was implemented for people coming from Middle Eastern and North African countries.
It has all made many Muslims feel that much more self-conscious.