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16 Years After 9/11, Muslims Still Central Targets in War With No End

On Monday, many Americans "mourn the often forgotten victims of the never-ending wars and draconian counter-terrorism policies of the post-9/11 world: the Muslim community."

protester calls for end of war on terror

Within and beyond the United States, many have called on U.S. President Donald Trump to end the 16-year-old War on Terror. (Photo: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr/cc)

As the nation on Monday mourned the nearly 3,000 lives lost 16 years ago in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the lifting of restrictions on the Trump administration's "Muslim ban" by the U.S. Supreme Court served as a timely reminder of how Muslims in the United States and worldwide continue to suffer from the so-called "War on Terror" launched in the wake of the 2001 attacks.

"The War on Terror was supposed to be about making our country safer. But as a Muslim American, I don't feel any safer," writes Maha Hilal, a professor and organizer, for Foreign Policy In Focus. Each year on September 11, in addition to mourning those killed in the 2001 attacks, she writes, "I also mourn the often forgotten victims of the never-ending wars and draconian counter-terrorism policies of the post-9/11 world: the Muslim community."

Hilal, a Muslim American who has lived in the United States for most of her life, describes what she learned in the wake of September 11, 2001:

  • "We'll be targets till we prove we're 'good' Muslims who are uncritical of foreign policy and who believe in the American dream."
  • "Religious freedom is a value that the United States cherishes, until of course Muslims try to claim it. Then it becomes a security concern."
  • "Different groups are targeted at different times under different umbrellas for our 'national security,' which is nothing more than legitimized and institutionalized racism and xenophobia."

Hilal also notes that although Muslims in the United States and abroad have much to fear from U.S. President Donald Trump's racist rhetoric and policies—such as the various iterations of the Muslim ban—the current president's words and actions have followed a path paved by his predecessors.

"While it's gotten worse under Trump, it's not something that started under him," she writes. "The Bush administration built the violent infrastructure of the war on terror, Obama expanded it, and Trump is simply building on it still."

Amid Trump's expansion of the war in Afghanistan, an increase in airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria—with estimates that the civilian death toll from bombings will double under Trump—and the administration's ongoing efforts to prevent Muslim refugees from entering the United States, the anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on American soil in U.S. history has motivated many to call for an abrupt end to the 16-year-old war.

"Any pretense that the U.S. intended to seek justice or increase world stability via its so-called War on Terror has been dramatically overshadowed by increased global resentment toward the U.S., which has in fact generated more terror attacks around the world," Dahr Jamail wrote for Truthout Monday.

"It is precisely this legacy that continues today: ongoing U.S. military violence abroad, increased domestic surveillance and repression at home, and a world more violent and less safe for all," Jamail added.

"We can still escape the endless and self-destructive War on Terror," Paul Rosenberg wrote for Salon on Sunday. "The key lies in resistance here at home."


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On Monday, students at Amherst College hung a banner to express solidarity with Muslims impacted by policies that followed 9/11 and denounce the war.

Many turned to Twitter to express frustration with how Muslims are impacted by U.S. domestic and foreign policy, and to condemn the lengthy war.

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