• Friday, September 22, 2023


9/11 anniversary: US lawmakers bring resolution to condemn hatred, xenophobia & racism

Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is also among the lawmakers.

A fiery blasts rocks the World Trade Center after being hit by two planes September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

A GROUP of US lawmakers, including Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to call out the hatred, xenophobia, and racism that plagued Arab, Muslim, South Asian and Sikh communities across America following the 9/11 terror attacks.

Monday (11) marked the 22nd anniversary of the attacks.

The September 11 attacks, commonly known as 9/11, were four coordinated Islamist suicide terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda against the United States in 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities have long experienced discrimination and violence in the US, which intensified after the attacks.

Just during the first month after the attacks, community organisations documented 945 incidents of bias and hate against Americans perceived to be of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent.

This climate of hate also led to bullying and violence in their everyday lives and in their workplaces, businesses, community centres, and houses of worship.

Jayapal along with lawmakers Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Judy Chu and Andre Carson introduced the resolution on Saturday, two days ahead of the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, recognising the tragedy and calling out the hatred, xenophobia, and racism that occurred following the attack.

“On September 11th, 2001, we lost thousands of lives to the worst terrorist attack to ever happen on American soil. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost in the attack and more than 4,500 others have died since from related illnesses – this day irrevocably changed our country and its impact is still felt,” Jayapal said.

“As we mark this tragic day, we must also reflect on the lasting damages faced by Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities in the aftermath,” the US representative from Washington’s 7th congressional district said.

The murders of Balbir Singh Sodhi, Waqar Hassan, and Adel Karas in the days following the attack were shocking displays of hatred, she said.

“Xenophobia and racism have no place in this country, and today we recognise the shared trauma that these communities faced as they experienced stigma, discrimination, and losses of liberty,” she added.

Omar said September 11, 2001, was a catastrophic event in American history. The fabric of our nation was changed indelibly. Sadly, in the wake of these attacks, the people in power betrayed our democratic ideals through mass surveillance, torture, indefinite detention, wars of aggression, and rampant violations of civil liberties.

Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian Americans across the country were viewed with suspicion, harassed, and even detained based solely on their identity, she said.

“As we mark the anniversary of these horrific attacks, we must learn from these mistakes. We must acknowledge that our strength as a nation ultimately comes from our ideals—religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom from unlawful detention, equality before the law and democracy. This resolution is a critical first step to acknowledging these past harms and beginning to heal,” she said.

“In the years since 9/11, our Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities have endured persistent racism, xenophobia, and discrimination. It’s long past time for our government to acknowledge the trauma it has and continues to inflict on our communities through the harmful policies, racial profiling, and unjust targeting of so many of our neighbours,” said Congresswoman Tlaib.

The road to truth and reconciliation is long, but this resolution is the first step towards the justice and healing that our communities deserve, she said.

The resolution put forward a series of recommendations to support those affected by the hateful profiling and targeting that has occurred during the 20 years since the September 11 attacks.

The recommendations include a call for the creation of an interagency task force to work with community-based organisations to review government policies, investigate and document their impact, and dismantle those policies that continue to profile and unfairly target these communities and hearings by congressional and civil rights bodies to explore the findings and recommendations of this interagency task force in consultation with and centring community-based organisations.

They called for supporting allocating resources to community-based organisations outside and independent of law enforcement that centre the experiences and demands of Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities.

Several organisations such as the Muslim Justice League, The Sikh Coalition and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund have endorsed the resolution.

(With PTI inputs)

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