LibLink: Rabina Khan: Life as a British Muslim changed forever on 9/11

Writing in the Independent, Lib Dem Tower Hamlets Councillor Rabina Khan reflects on how 9/11 changed things for British Muslims.

She described her reaction on the day. Like our editor Caron Lindsay, she was cradling her baby as she watched events unfold on the television:

She described her sadness, and anger at that the perpetrators had done but also fear about what was coming for Muslims as a result of the actions of a few extremists who would be held to represent an entire religion:

At the same time, I felt anxious, knowing that some people would assume that all Muslims harboured the same views as the terrorists. Extremists are not Muslims and have deliberately skewed the texts to fit their homicidal agenda. They are murderers.

America’s response to that fateful day rewrote not just its own democracy but reshaped our world and the way we live. Our world witnessed the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, secret surveillance, increased dawn raids on Muslim homes, the way our children and young people were monitored at school. It became an era of fear and mistrust.

And it was that fear which had a profound effect on her daily life:

How can I forget the countless times I saw the look of dread and panic on people’s faces when I reached for my phone from my bag on the tube or the time when my rosary fell out of my bag during Ramadan? I remember a little after the terror attack my elderly gran’s beloved Adhan clock (the call to prayer) went off in her bag and people in the queue in a shop ran for the door.

Oblivious to the lingering, uncomfortable and judgmental stares in the shop from staff, my gran dressed in her crisp cotton white sari and head covered with a shawl, turned off the alarm, picked up the toy a parent had dropped and handed it back to the cashier. Recently, I was travelling on the tube in London when I was called a “f****** Muslim whore” by another passenger, but there were people who stood up for me.

Things have got worse in the meantime and she’s not optimistic for the future:

Stigmatising and biased news reports not only affect how Muslims are perceived, but how they perceive the world in which they live. Admittedly, with the advent of campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, certain aspects have improved for Muslims, such as equal opportunities, but this does not mean that racism has lessened. From anti-Chinese rhetoric to online hate speech targeted at Muslims, the pandemic also divided people and resulted in the dissemination of fake news.

This will only get worse in Britain and Europe as we face the continuing threat of online radicalisation, the lingering menace of Isis and the inevitable security risks at home and abroad, flowing from the recent fall of Kabul to the Taliban as western troops withdrew so suddenly. Last week, Pakistan’s security advisor warned the west and international community to “engage” with the Taliban or face another 9/11.

You can read the whole article here.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

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