Four Myths About 9/11 & Muslims I’m Tired of Hearing

Palestinians didn’t celebrate 9-11; that was footage from 1991.
This one is trotted out often by sympathetic, well-meaning folks who want to believe that no one could celebrate a tragedy like 9/11. They’re wrong: there is no evidence to support the claim that CNN was conspiring to make Palestinians look bad by airing old footage and plenty to support the claim that the footage was taken right after the 9/11 attacks occurred.

369997735_19803d237f_bIt makes sense to profile people who appear to adhere to Islam since 9-11 was planned and carried out by Muslims.
Yes, I’m looking at you, Sam Harris. It’s comforting to think that terrorists wear specific garb or all look a certain way and that, therefore, targeting people who look or dress a certain way is helpful in preventing terrorism. If only those darn politically-correct simpering liberals would let us, amirite? Except, if you take a look at the hijackers, what do you see? No long beards — or beards at all, for the most part. They look like any number of brown men in the US. Furthermore, they dressed in “normal” garb, as in pants and shirts rather than robes and turbans (most turban-wearers are Sikh rather than Muslim, anyway).

Muslims didn’t condemn 9-11.
At least within the United States, nearly every major Muslim org and mosque put out a condemnation of 9/11, just as they have done with every other major terrorist act. Why wasn’t that better publicized, then? Ask yourself what tends to make the news especially after a terrorist attack. “Muslim Group Condemns Terrorism” is either going to be ignored entirely or buried because it’s not sexy, violent, offensive, or otherwise attention-grabbing. Furthermore, Muslims aren’t exactly a huge percentage of the American population.

Some claim that Muslims should have gone further in order to make their condemnation of terrorism clear and public, with a march, perhaps, or a giant protest of some kind. The problem is that, especially right after 9/11, most of us Muslims were, frankly, scared shitless. We faced potential and actual violence from our fellow Americans for a violent act that killed several of our own. Organizing a giant public spectacle to appease those who automatically believed us to be terrorists wasn’t exactly the first thing on our minds when we couldn’t go about our daily lives without fear. Later, we had plenty to fear from the government: the Patriot Act was used to falsely accuse, incarcerate, and persecute innocent Muslims; the government lied to us despite our cooperation in anti-terror measures on at least one documented occasion.

Personally, I believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. While I have my issues with Islam and agree that there are problems with the Quran that lend themselves to being used to justify horrendous violence, that’s no reason to automatically assume that every Muslim is pro-terror unless they’ve participated in a march to “prove” that they aren’t. For some of us, such demands simply add insult to injury. Muslim Americans are just as targeted by Al Qaeda and its ilk as any other American: Bin Laden himself said so*. If someone who is arguably the face of terror tells you that Muslim Americans aren’t his people and you still believe them to be his supporters, well, I don’t know what more I can say. I don’t think it’s helpful in fighting terrorism to lump Muslims who aren’t terrorists in with terrorists, but hey, what do I know?

4980598101_5d3a308fe0_bIt was disrespectful for Muslims to want to build the Ground Zero Mosque.
For the record, the building is a community center called Park51 and wasn’t built on Ground Zero, so the term “Ground Zero Mosque” is a deliberate troll. For many years, there have been mosques close to the World Trade Center site in New York City. There was a Muslim prayer room in the World Trade Center itself. New York is a multi-cultural city and most of its residents understand that. If Muslim Americans who aren’t at all affiliated with terrorism aren’t allowed to build community centers anywhere near Ground Zero, then by that logic, no churches of any denomination should be allowed anywhere near reproductive health centers.

* I was unable to find a link to it, but I do recall seeing a Bin Laden video at some point where he basically said that it’s cool to kill American Muslims because they’re on the wrong side of things. Even if I’m misremembering, Al-Qaeda has generally been fine with killing Muslims who are in the way of their non-Muslim targets and considers all Americans a target, no exceptions stated.

Update: Astute commenter Nathan found a link to a transcript of a Bin Laden tape where he says

Anyone who aids America or help it, including Arab leaders, or anyone who fights alongside them or provides them with bases or any kind of support, even if it was only verbal, in order to kill Muslims in Iraq, that is a Muslim that he is no longer a Muslim and therefore he will be a legitimate target.

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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  1. To your third point, “Muslim Group Condemns Terrorism” was barely publicized in DETROIT, where one might thing it could possibly have been A Thing. (For those unfamiliar, the Detroit suburb of Dearborn has one of the largest Arab-American populations in the US. While Arab != Muslim, there’s still a lot.) And oh, you wanted all the Muslims to go out and march in protest of the attacks to demonstrate their harmlessness to you? From what I heard, quite a lot were afraid to leave their *houses* for a while, let alone gather in large groups in public.

    Or, you could just be jerks for over a decade and chase a festival out of town.

    I mean, how in the hell do you prove you’re not a terrorist?

  2. Thanks. I’ve come to dread 9/11 rolling around. Mostly it’s just a day that pisses me the fuck off what with all the racism and xenophobia and Islamophobia and so on..

  3. I am British and until 9/11 many Americans including the Mayor of New York supported a terrorist organization that has tried to murder members of my family. Not just with words, but attending fund raisers (NORAID existed to raise money for the IRA) and giving their leaders ‘humanitarian awards’.

    I note that many of the folk who attack many legitimate Muslim charitable organizations with no ties to terrorism helped collect money for NORAID despite being told by the State department that the money went to buy guns and explosives.

    The CNN footage is probably genuine but what struck me was just how few people were in the film. They were not showing demonstrations with thousands or even hundreds of people. They were showing one family of maybe six people total.

    And then there is the fact that the UK and US then went on to cause the deaths of half a million Iraqis because George W. Bush wanted to show he was more macho than his father and the neo-cons wanted to enact a foreign policy of oderint dum metuant.

  4. I felt such relief as I read this article. I can’t even articulate a proper response but I just want to make sure I say thank you so much. It is hard to avoid anti-Muslim rhetoric in the media, on social media, in social settings, there is no way to avoid it and it’s hard to address it. I can look away, I can scroll on to something else, I can change the subject and I can change the channel, but that is simply self-preservation, and it is really not enough. It’s so good to see a chance for this sort of conversation to happen.

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