A group of lawmakers introduced on Friday a resolution that both recognizes the tragedy of the Sept. 11 attacks and calls out the hate, racism and xenophobia that has since plagued members of the Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Sikh communities.
Background: The Sept. 11 attacks, more commonly referred to as 9/11, were four coordinated terrorist attacks carried out by the Islamist al-Qaeda group against the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. The incident resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths.
Discrimination against Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Sikh communities intensified after the attacks, with nearly 1,000 hate incidents reported in the following month. The government’s subsequent overreaching policing, surveillance and criminalization policies also reportedly resulted in wrongful interrogation, coercion, detention, deportation, arrest and incarceration.
Key details: Sponsors of the resolution include U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Judy Chu, André Carson, Shri Thanedar and Henry Calvin “Hank” Johnson. It presents several recommendations including:
- The creation of an interagency task force to review and dismantle government policies that profile and unfairly target Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Sikh communities
- Congressional and civil rights hearings to explore the task force’s findings and recommendations
- The allocation of resources to community-based organizations to support hate crime prevention and victims’ needs, including mental health and language support
- Alternatives to law enforcement and transformative justice programs that are culturally and linguistically accessible to vulnerable members of the communities
- A study on the impact of hate, government targeting, political rhetoric and profiling on physical and mental health
What the lawmakers are saying: The resolution’s sponsors acknowledged the struggles of the Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Sikh communities while remembering the horrors of 9/11.
Congresswoman Jayapal remembered the names of Balbir Singh Sodhi, Waqar Hassan and Adel Karas, who were all murdered in the aftermath of the attacks.
“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. 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 murders of Balbir Singh Sodhi, Waqar Hassan, and Adel Karas in the days following the attack were shocking displays of hatred. Xenophobia and racism have no place in this country, and today we recognize the shared trauma that these communities faced as they experienced stigma, discrimination, and losses of liberty.”
Meanwhile, Congresswoman Omar said the mass surveillance, indefinite detention and other violations of civil liberties against the communities by those in power “betrayed our democratic ideals.” The resolution, she said, is a “critical first step to acknowledging these past harms and beginning to heal.”