WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Judy Chu (CA-28) and André Carson (IN-07) today introduced a resolution both recognizing the tragedy of the September 11th attacks, and calling out the hatred, xenophobia, and racism that plagued Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities across America 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. 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,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “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.”
“September 11th was a catastrophic event in American history. We lost nearly 3,000 lives in attacks on the political and economic centers of the United States, with thousands more suffering lifelong health impacts,” said Congresswoman Omar. “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. 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.”
“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 neighbors,” 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.”
“The attacks on September 11th were attacks on our whole nation, and in the days and weeks that followed, the country came closer together. But many in the Muslim, Middle Eastern, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian communities were excluded from that unity and instead became subject to an increasing atmosphere of suspicion, xenophobia, and violence,” said Congresswoman Chu. “The U.S. government exacerbated this atmosphere contributed to the atmosphere of increased bigotry and hate violence, stripping communities of their civil rights and adopting blatantly prejudiced practices like the surveillance of mosques. We must continue to acknowledge, condemn, and learn from those grave errors to ensure national security is never an excuse to do harm to communities of color or religious communities.”
“Each year, the anniversary of 9/11 is a chance to reflect, especially for our first responders, their families, and all who witnessed that fateful day,” said Congressman Carson. “We must also heal from the painful aftermath for the Muslim American community, who experienced a rise in hate crimes and discrimination – including hate against Muslim American first responders. This resolution calls for a community-based approach to reduce acts of hate, support Muslim Americans, and help our entire country continue to move forward.”
The resolution puts 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 attack, including:
- Calling for the creation of an interagency task force to work with community-based organizations to review government policies, investigate and document their impact, and dismantle those policies that continue to profile and unfairly target these communities;
- Calling for hearings by congressional and civil rights bodies to explore the findings and recommendations of this interagency task force in consultation with and centering community-based organizations;
- Supporting allocating resources to community-based organizations outside and independent of law enforcement that center the experiences and demands of Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities to both support hate crime prevention and the needs of victims of hate and State violence, including language support, mental health, comprehensive support, system navigation, and crisis response and recovery; and create alternatives to law enforcement and transformative justice programs that are culturally and linguistically accessible and focus on vulnerable populations within these communities; and
- Calling on the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Health, and the National Science Foundation to work together to study the impact of hate, government targeting, political rhetoric, and profiling on physical and mental health.
Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities have long experienced discrimination and violence in the U.S., which intensified after the attacks. Just during the first month after the attack, community organizations 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 centers, and houses of worship.
The government also targeted Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities with overreaching policing, surveillance, and criminalization policies that resulted in wrongful interrogation, coercion, detention, deportation, arrest, and incarceration. Principles like due process, presumption of innocence, and evidence of wrongdoing were replaced with humiliation, mob mentality, and guilt by association. Border officials and government authorities also cast aside constitutional rights and engaged in discriminatory searches and seizures. Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and immigration authorities arrested and detained as many as 1,200 Muslims immediately after the September 11 attack, and none of these “special interest” detained people were ultimately indicted for terrorist activity. This hate and government targeting impacted the ability of these communities to exercise their constitutionally protected rights including to organize, speak, travel, and worship freely.
The resolution is sponsored by Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Judy Chu (CA-28), André Carson (IN-07), Shri Thanedar (MI-13), and Henry Calvin “Hank” Johnson (GA-04).
The resolution is endorsed by Muslim Justice League; The Sikh Coalition; Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF); American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC); Defending Rights & Dissent; Asian Law Alliance; Japanese American Citizens League (JACL); Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Minnesota ; Emgage; National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA); Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) WA; Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO; South Asian Network; UNITED SIKHS; Bend the Arc: Jewish Action; National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD); Poligon Education Fund; Hindus for Human Rights; Muslim Advocates; Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Asian American Federal Employees for Nondiscrimination; Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign; Stop AAPI Hate; Chinese for Affirmative Action; AAPI Equity Alliance; American Humanist Association; OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates; Interfaith Alliance; National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC); United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries; New York Immigration Coalition; The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association; Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote); Coalition on Civil Freedom ; Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus; Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF); Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign; Legacies of War; American Atheists; American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN); Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA); Church World Service; and Restore The Fourth.
Issues: Civil Rights