The beginning of the twenty first century started dramatically for the world and especially for the United States. Before 9/11 not many of us knew what Islam was and who a Muslim was? After this date, people in the world started to panic, and became afraid of everything that is “oriental”, in this case meant Muslim, and at the same time unknown. The racial and ethnic characteristic was so foreign and freighting that it was very easy to demonize Muslim culture and religion. Recent tragic historical experience, national and world wide, associated with terrorism, plus lack of knowledge about this culture led “modern” society, especially USA, once again to racism.
Soon after September 11, many Muslim faced similar treatment to this one, which African Americans were exposed to in the past. Number of believers of Mohammad were killed, women were oppressed on the streets, mosques where vandalized. In the article, by Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, the journalists of the FOX News Chanel, “NYPD keeps files on Muslims who change their names,” emphasizes the issue of braking basic constitutional laws of freedom directed strictly to one ethnic group.
For generations, immigrants have shed their ancestral identities and taken new, Americanized names as they found their place in the melting pot. For Muslims in New York, that rite of assimilation is now seen by police as a possible red flag in the hunt for terrorists.
The New York Police Department monitors everyone in the city who changes his or her name, according to interviews and internal police documents obtained by The Associated Press. For those whose names sound Arabic or might be from Muslim countries, police run comprehensive background checks that include reviewing travel records, criminal histories, business licenses and immigration documents.
All immigrants, like we learn in SOC 217, more or less had to face assimilation process, for the Muslims this process is much more complicated than for other racial and ethnic groups arriving to this country, because they have to face stigma of “Islamic Terrorism.” Like the article’s point, the name change is a natural part of the process of assimilation. Those immigrants want to avoid the oppression based on a Muslim, Arab like name. By changing the name of birth many doors stand open for them. Jobs were suddenly available to them, apartment hunting more successful and their kids’ acceptance to prestigious schools more realistic. They simply change their names to fit better to America society.
Donna Gabaccia, director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, states: “In the past, you changed your name in response to stigmatization,” she said. “And now, you change your name and you are stigmatized. There’s just something very sad about this.”(FOX News) The NYPD and FBI practices lead to oppressions of the legal citizens and prevent natural process of the immigrant’s assimilation.
The United State,from their unknown fear created “The New Black” race which now is exposed to racist practices of their neighbors, law official and simply in everyday life. Today’s media has changed their approach to how they present the Muslim society, and programs like “All-American Muslim: Welcome to Dearborn”, which will be streamed on TLC from November 13, will help Americans get to know Islam and Muslim culture. This is simply a learning process for America. Maybe these education processes will help them to understand that terrorism is not equal to Muslim.
The families featured in the series share the same religion, but lead very distinct lives that often times challenge the Muslim stereotype. Among the handful of subjects profiled are Shadia and Suehaila, who are tight-knit sisters, but while Suehaila wears the traditional head scarf, is active in the Muslim community and prays five times a day, Shadia is outspoken, has piercings and tattoos and recently married an Irish Catholic who is converting to Islam. Also recently married, Nadar and Nawal are having their first baby and trying to find the balance between their traditional Muslim roots and American culture. Mike, Deputy Chief for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Dept., works tirelessly to educate the department about the Muslim religion in an effort to reduce discrimination and ignorance while his wife, an executive who works as a consultant to a major auto manufacturer, struggles to find the balance between work and raising a modern Muslim family.