9/11: Six Years Later

Washington, DC: Six years after 9/11, the Muslim American community pauses to solemnly remember and honor the 3,000 Americans who lost their lives in the ghastly attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, says an MPAC press release. It adds:
Each year, Americans turn their eyes to Ground Zero, where our nation's leaders join the survivors and families of those killed in the attacks to read aloud the names of all the victims and to join in periods of silence to mark the exact times the Twin Towers were hit. 9/11 did indeed change the world as we know it. As we commemorate those who lost their lives, we must also take stock of our nation's response to this act of unprecedented terror and to the implications for the Muslim American community.
In six years, the Bush administration went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, Congress hastily passed the USA PATRIOT Act which infringed on the civil rights of Americans of all backgrounds, the CIA conducted a domestic surveillance program jeopardizing the privacy of all Americans, and the global threat of terrorism has expanded rather than been contained.
In the aftermath of the attacks, the Bush administration declared a "war on terrorism" which sought to bring Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda to justice, and led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Al-Qaeda had no presence in Iraq before the US invasion, but recent reports indicate that Al-Qaeda now uses Iraq as a base for recruitment. Meanwhile, Congress continues to deliberate the presence of US troops in Iraq and the mounting loss of human life.
There are many voices on both sides of the political and religious spectrum who are calling for a change in our nation's approach to the global fight against terrorism. Military intervention and covert intelligence forces cannot be relied upon exclusively to make us safer. Our policymakers have neglected a crucial ingredient to enhancing our security inside our borders and beyond.
While the 9/11 Commission Report "unequivocally exonerated the Muslim American community from any link with perpetrators of terrorist attacks", the Muslim American community has been increasingly stigmatized since 9/11 which undermines our efforts to create partnerships between them and law enforcement. Let us not forget that following the attacks, 80,000 Arab and Muslim immigrants were fingerprinted and registered in the name of "preventing terrorism". While it is imperative to make America safer, we must not do so by the erosion of those civil liberties that make this country great. The issues of privacy, presumption of innocence, and judicial oversight of domestic intelligence gathering remain ideals in the post 9/11 era.
In Congressional testimony he offered this spring, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff stated, "It is critical that we recognize that American Muslims have been, and will continue to be, a highly valued part of the fabric of our Nation. American Muslims have been outspoken in their opposition to terrorist violence and have been strong contributors to our country for many generations."
Muslim Americans are all too aware that they play a critical role in the ideological struggle against terrorism by directly countering the culture of suicide terrorism. MPAC and the Muslim American community are committed to working with law enforcement and decision-makers to make America safer by building our nation's credibility around the world and partnering with diverse communities to create inclusion and dialogue.
Founded in 1988, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of Muslim Americans.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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