In the six years since the 9-11 attacks, Muslims in America have faced discrimination because of their faith, and many are choosing to change their names to avoid it.
The legal process in simple, but the emotional one is much more complex.
“We tried to change the name,” said Ibrahim Dremali, the imam at the Islamic Center of Greater Austin. “It was a lot of process, but you know what, we came to the conclusion: This is the price to be a Muslim. Struggle. Unfortunately.”
Dremali is one of many Muslim Americans who thought about changing their Arabic names after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Dremali said one of the most difficult places for Muslims is the airport, where just a person’s name can land him on the no-fly list and lead to hours of questioning.
“I swear to God, when I go to the airport, I don’t want to go; I’d rather drive,” Dremali said.
“I do feel a bit saddened from the inside that we have to do that, because we have the freedom to practice whatever religion we want,” said Mohamed-Umer Esmail, the imam at the North Austin Muslim Community Center.
Esmail said many Muslim parents are even thinking twice about the names they choose for their children.
“This is what they tell me is that we don’t want our children to have any difficulty growing up,” Esmail said.
Esmail and Dremali said they continue to explain their faith to others even six years after the attacks.
“Hey, we are American, we are not Osama Bin Laden,” Dremali said. “This is the things we have to let the people understand. There is a big difference between that part of the world, and we are as Muslims in America.”