Soon after [the attacks], like so many Muslims in the United States, a different fear set in [for Ali Malik]: that his faith would be associated with the 19 hijackers.
What followed were two decades of policies that civil rights advocates say add up to the religious profiling and unlawful surveillance of Muslims in the U.S. under the broad banner of national security.
“My life at that time was completely different I would say to my life afterwards,” Malik said. “9/11 completely changed the world and it changed my life for sure.”
In the weeks after the attacks, some 1,200 people, mostly Muslims, were rounded up. Some were held without charges for months. Many were deported on largely minor immigration violations. And Malik was getting questions from friends about Islam, about Afghanistan and about the drumbeat for war. He didn’t know all the answers.
“And to deal with it, I used alcohol to be honest,” he said. He told himself, “I’m just going to party, I’m going to have a good time. I’m going to hang out with my friends and I’m not going to deal with it.”
Then he met the religious leader, or imam, that led the Islamic Center of Irvine in Orange County. Malik started to search for the answers to his questions and the ones he was getting about his faith.
“It was the imam and the community at the Islamic Center of Irvine that really turned the page for me and made me realize, no, we do have an articulate voice. No, this isn’t our tradition,” he said.
He was sure that his faith wasn’t the caricature of evil depicted on television. [Continue reading…]