9/11: FIVE YEARS LATER: MUSLIM COMMUNITY IN BROOKLYN THRIVING
After September 11th, a backlash against Muslims and stricter deportation rules forced thousands of people in one Brooklyn community to flee. But five years later, the situation has changed. NY1’s Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
American flags are displayed along Coney Island Avenue in an area known as Little Pakistan. For many, it’s a sign that the community is here to stay. That definitely wasn’t the case after September 11th when community leaders say tens of thousands of Pakistanis moved out of the neighborhood and out of the country. Some because of backlash, others because of stricter deportation policies. Dozens of businesses in the area shut down. But now five years later, there’s re-investment in the community.
“Like six months after 9/11, the business goes down and everything but slowly, slowly, this come back and now it’s good,” says Quisar Chaudhry. “All the Pakistani community is good now. They’re happy in this area.”
Chaudhry is investing in the community, opening up his first business, a pastry shop. Across the street, a pizza sign still stands but it’s recently been turned into a halal fried chicken restaurant. Community activist Mohammed Ravzi says now that the neighborhood’s become more stable, Pakistanis and other South Asians who have applied to live in the U.S. are moving in.
“Many individuals had put in paperwork. This is a backlog of almost 12 years. So their cases came up and they were being approved, and as they’re being approved, people are coming to join their families here,” says Ravzi.
Razvi founded the Council of Pakistan Organization Community Center after 9/11 to help Pakistanis with immigration issues. But after the mass exodus of Pakistanis, other immigrants started moving in and needed help too. So Razvi expanded his services, including English and computer classes. And decided to change the center’s name to Council of People’s Organization to be more inclusive. He says as he continues to grow, he’ll now be reaching out to teenagers in the area.
“When we ask the kids what do they want to do when they grow up, they tell us they want to become a yellow cab driver or they want to work in a restaurant, because that’s all they see. And we want to make sure we work with the youth to develop them; that there’s more,” he says.