Islamophobia existed in the US and elsewhere long before 9/11. However, the attacks — planned and executed by the al-Qaida — intensified these animosities. Misunderstandings, stereotypes and hateful rhetoric about Islam have affected the lives of thousands of Muslims ever since.
While some have found ways to challenge stereotypes and fight back against bias, many are still learning to cope the torrent of pain the 9/11 attacks unleashed.
Polls in the US show that views against Islam and Muslims worsened steadily and rapidly following the attacks.
By 2010, nearly half of all Americans believed that Islam encourages violence.
Since 2001, Muslims have been the second most frequent target for religiously motivated hate crimes, FBI data showed.
“America’s diverse Muslim communities were foisted into the spotlight,” Youssef Chouhoud, a political scientist at Virginia’s Christopher Newport University told Associated Press.
“Your sense of who you were was becoming more formed, not just Muslim but American Muslim,” he said. “What distinguished you as an American Muslim? Could you be fully both, or did you have to choose? There was a lot of grappling with what that meant.”
A 2017 Pew survey found that half of US adults said that “Islam is not part of mainstream American society” – a view held by nearly seven-in-ten Republicans (68%) but only 37% of Democrats.
In a separate survey conducted in 2017, 56% of Republicans said there was a great deal or fair amount of extremism among US Muslims, with fewer than half as many Democrats (22%) saying the same.
A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (AP-NORC) conducted ahead of the 9/11 anniversary found that 53% of Americans have unfavorable views toward Islam, compared with 42% who have favorable ones.
This stands in contrast to Americans’ opinions about Christianity and Judaism, for which most respondents expressed favorable views.
In a March 2021 survey, US adults were asked how much discrimination they think a number of religious groups face in society. Americans were more likely to say they believe Muslims face “a lot” of discrimination than to say the same about the other religious groups included in the survey, including Jews and evangelical Christians.
In another recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 53% said they don’t personally know anyone who is Muslim, and 52% said they know “not much” or “nothing at all” about Islam.
By 2040, Muslims will replace Jews as the nation’s second-largest religious group after Christians. And by 2050, the US Muslim population is projected to reach 8.1 million, or 2.1% of the nation’s total population — nearly twice the share of today, Pew research showed.