spaceThe existence and impact of racial profiling has been a hotly debated issue for years in America. Below are several examples of the US government or citizens overreaching in response to national security issues. Although the fit is not the perfect relation to post-September 11th treatment of Muslims in America, the situations are similar enough in that groups of people were identified by their looks or legal actions and punished according to a crisis. At the end of the history section, read about how Muslims in America experienced discrimination and acts of violence at the hands of their fellow Americans in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Alien and Sedition Acts (immigrants/journalists)
spaceThe Alien and Sedition Acts were passed in 1798 under the Adams administration that, among other things, allowed the US government to deport aliens who were, "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States." The administration used these and other powers to crack down on recent immigrants and political opposition coming mostly from the Thomas Jefferson led Republicans. One man, Anthony Haswell, was jailed for publishing written support of Matthew Lyon, who had been critical of the U.S. government; both rights were ostensibly guaranteed by the First Amendment. Haswell was freed when former President Thomas Jefferson took office.

Civil War Era America (African Americans)
spaceIn pre-Civil War America, laws restricting the rights of African Americans were passed all over the country. An 1804 Ohio law prohibited even free African Americans from entering the state. In 1813, Illinois followed suit. In post-Civild War America, many were critical of some southerners' use of Black Codes to keep keep African Americans from moving up in society. Although each state established its own codes, many shared elements that prevented African Americans from voting, holding political office or serving in the military even though the Constitution guaranteed them those rights.

World War II (Japanese Americans)
spaceOn January 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which authorized in part:

"Now therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action to be necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any persons to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restriction the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion."

spaceThe executive order above was used to justify the US government rounding up Japanese Americans and forcing them to live in internment camps at various places across the mainland of America. Following the September 11th attacks, many Arabs and Muslims living in America and abroad experienced negative actions against them. On August 10th, 1988, the US Government issued an apology to the Japanese Americans affected by the internment camps. Click here to read the apology.

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Treatment of Muslims In America
spaceIn the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, the US Commission on Civil Rights recommended in a report that its state agencies monitor future instances of discrimination against Muslims, Sikhs, Arabs and South Asians. According to the report, there were parallels between the post-9/11 treatment of the above groups to that of the profiling of Japanese Americans during World War II. The report also cited a December 1999 Gallup poll that found 80% of Americans felt racial profiling should be stopped, yet one month after the attacks, the majority of Americans felt Arabs should receive extra scrutiny from law enforcement, especially at airports.

spaceIn August of 2010, 21-year old Michael Enright(below left) hailed cab driven by Ahmed H. Sharif(below right). After asking if the driver was a Muslim, Enright pulled out a knife and slashed the cab driver's throat. As he committed the crime, Enright said, "consider this a checkpoint."

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Treatment of Muslims Around the World
spaceFollowing the September 11th attacks, many Arabs and Muslims living in America and abroad experienced negative actions against them. For example, according to the European Union, both Muslims and Jews in Great Britain had been the victims of acts against them. Headstones at a Muslim cemetery in Austria were uprooted, an Afghan cab driver in Great Britain was beaten who, according to police reports, referred to the September 11th attacks, and a mosque in Madrid, Spain was pelted with red, white and blue eggs.

A Mixed Bag
spaceAlthough awareness of unfair treatment and violence towards Muslims in America has risen in past years, there is still uncertainty about the future. A 2010 CBS News/New York Times poll found that 78% of Americans felt that Muslims are "unfairly singled out," however, 25% felt negative feelings toward Muslims, and 33% felt that American Muslims sympathize with the terrorists. Clearly, there is divisiveness, confusion and fear from all parties involved as Americans of all religions are still trying to sort out their feelings one decade after the attacks.

Discussion Questions
1. Why do you feel these types of situations occur during or after tragedies?