On 20th Anniversary of 9/11, We Must Reckon With Fear and Xenophobia

New York, NY—The 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, has set off a national conversation on the fear, backlash, and policy decisions sparked by the horrific event. In the immediate days and weeks after 9/11, many Muslim, Arab and immigrant New Yorkers were the targets of hate crimes and abuse. In the years that followed, under the leadership of President George W. Bush and Congressional leaders, Muslim, Arab, and immigrants across the country became the targets of racist and demeaning public policies that continue to impact their daily lives.


Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition:

“Two decades later, the loss of so many of our fellow New Yorkers still looms over the city. Coupled with our grief are the memories of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones who rushed in to help in any way they could. As the child of immigrants and a Muslim Arab-American, I took immense comfort and pride in the unity my fellow New Yorkers, Black, white, brown, and undocumented, exemplified that day. That moment made our politicians’ subsequent dismantling of this shared humanity all the more heartbreaking.

The core of what defined me, my immigrant roots, Palestinian background, and faith, became reasons to violate my fundamental rights and question my very personhood. But mine is one of many stories that make up a two-decades-long campaign of terror against Muslim and immigrant Americans. Federal and local agencies launched raids into our communities, rounding up brothers, fathers, and grandfathers, interrogating them as though they were criminals just because of their religion. Like so many activists of my generation, this campaign of terror put me on the path to advocating for our collective civil and human rights. Now, twenty years later, we are demanding our leaders undo the harms caused by the explosion of surveillance, detention, criminalization, violence, discrimination, and hate crimes in the post-9/11 era.”