9/11 and Muslim Women

Muslim women are easily recognized by their religious outfit that differentiates between them and other women. They are also recognised because of the headscarves that every Muslim woman wants to wear. Whenever an Islamic terrorist attack takes place in the United States, or anywhere in the world, Muslim women who wear the headscarves in the region of the incident immediately become the subject and prime suspects for their stereotypical social hate. America is known for its freedom of expression and faith, but in the eyes of many Americans Islam is a religion that faces exclusion and segregation. Several terrorist attacks have happened around the world and changed the lives of many Muslims especially women regarding how the rest of the society perceive about them. The 9/11 attack is one of the worst acts of the terror that did not only claim the lives of manty people but also escalated the rift between other religions and Islam, leading to the exclusion of Muslim women.

After the 9/11 horrific events, the hate and negative feelings against Islam and Muslims did increase. There have been a arise in complaints of civil rights involving violence, harassment, profiling, refusal to hire, unjustified interrogations, refusal of Muslims to conduct their religious practices in workplaces, schools, prisons. Most of these complaints are reported by women in hijabs because they are easily identified with a religion unlike men who do not put on their religious attires all the time. The complaints signify that the religious freedom is no longer cherished by Muslims and more so the women because of the physical appearance for wearing headscarves. Since the happening of 9/11 attack, numerous American Muslims have reported incidences of discrimination and bias on them. About three quarters of the Muslim women who put on headscarf have contemplated about facing at least an incidence of discrimination after the attack.

The headscarves and hijabs easily identifies them and they are stigmatized by the non-Muslims. Women are humiliated and religiously profiled to be terrorists because of what they wear. These humiliations have caused them the feelings of anger, isolation, sadness, and insecurity. The feelings and experiences they go through have negative impacts on their lives. Some of them have even become so afraid that they are not willing to leave their homesteads. It has become difficult for them to be part of the society as some even question their identities in America. It is almost two decades but normalcy is yet to return in their lives. An increase in the number of terrorist attacks both inside and outside the United States continue to worsen their situations as the rest of the society hold to their profiling and stereotype that Muslims are terrorists. Each time a terrorist attack occurs anywhere in Europe, Muslims are the suspects and women are the one that face the impacts of being a suspect for something they know nothing about simply because they are recognized for wearing the headscarves. There has been a discussion on whether the hijab is used to control or oppress women, but after the 9/11 social order now view it a symbol of threat, violence and terrorism.

According to the FBI, there was a tremendous increase in hate crimes perpetrated on Muslims from 2000 to 2001 and women recorded the highest number of victims. After the attack, they began to face to negative behaviors and attitudes, stereotyping, bias and stigmatization, threats, verbal and physical assaults. All these incidences were realized due to an increase in the number of complaints on civil rights. Most complaints were related to the hijab. Unlike men’s Islamic hat, the hijab is mandatory to for Muslim women and it identifies them with Islam easily. The majority of Americans believe that Islam is the most likely religion that can encourage violence than any other. They find it unfit with American ways of life and values and that is why the hate against Islam is very high thus leaving Muslim women as the majority victims in this religious animosity. Many Americans don’t feel comfortable when they are around Muslim women in burqas. Though the level of discrimination decreased as they years progressed since the September 11, total normalcy has never returned for women in hijabs. Headscarves have remained to be the main source of their discrimination. For example, in 2007, there was an instance where a women wearing a hijab was blocked from entering a courtroom in Georgia. The following year, in the same Georgia, another woman was jailed from entering a courtroom with a headscarf.

Muslim women in hijabs have continued to be targeted inappropriately when a terrorist attack happens in any other country. For example, the November 2015 attack in Paris that was carried out by the Islamic State caused an increase hate criminalities against Muslim women. There was an incidence in London where a woman pushed another woman in hijab in front of a coming train. There have been several assault cases against Muslims women in different areas such as Toronto, New York, and Cincinnati. Assaults of different degrees that include physical attack and insults have been committed against Muslim women across the United States. Discrimination on this group has gone beyond insulting and attacking. There was an incident where a flight attendant felt uncomfortable with two women in Hijabs and pulled them off the plain. In a different occasion, a women wearing a headscarf was denied to be opened a soda can because the flight attendant felt the can could be used as weapon. All other passengers were served leaving only this woman without the service. These are some of the few known cases that demonstrate the discriminations and unfair accusations that Muslim when undergo in the US and other European countries. Whenever, a terrorist attack happens in the US or any other place, Muslim girls and women face insults, assaults, or attacks without any valid reason.

Muslim women all over the world feel aggrieved for facing endless tragedies. They constantly face attacks from the government, ordinary citizens, and soldiers. They are attacked publicly for failing to wear headscarves or hijabs in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran that are dominated with Islam. On the other hand, they are attacked for wearing the same attires because of their religion in other countries like the UK or the USA. Unfortunately, these discriminatory and violent acts against humanity has been accepted in the society and legitimized in some countries. People fail to understand why a woman would choose to wear, a hijab, headscarf or a burqa but they are quick to judge and discriminate them based on their religious affiliation. The society never cares to find out what could pressurize a woman to endure wearing of such stuffs even in places where they are sure of facing discrimination. Some of them wear these attires to connect with God according to their religious beliefs whereas others are pressurized by political leaders and parents. It is worth to note that whichever the above mentioned reasons, no person has a right to stereotypically associate a woman in an Islamic dress code with terrorism and hence discriminate or assault her. Some institutions believe that Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God like what happened to a professor of political science in Wheaton College.


There is need for religious understanding and tolerance between Muslims and non-Muslims all across the globe. Political and community leaders have a role to play in addressing the discrimination against Muslim women. Politicians need to advocate for integration rather than portraying Muslims as violent or threatening to the Americans. Educational and religious institutions should provide dialogues and other community engagement activities to enhance coherence and tolerance. Organizations for human rights should initiate awareness projects to monitor and report cases of discrimination and hate against Muslim women and establish potential solutions for the menace. Furthermore, women leaders and organizations oriented for women should actively address such discriminations with a great level of boldness. They need to openly speak with one voice to support Muslim women. Changing the notions portrayed in the media can change people’s perceptions about Islam. Muslim women in with hijabs and headscarves are supposed to be active participants in such projects to eliminate the notion of them being a threat to the society.


Frumin, Aliyah, and Amanda Sakuma. 2017. “Hope And Despair: Being Muslim In America After 9/11”. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/9-11-anniversary/hope-despair-being-muslim-america-after-9-11-n645451.

Ghumman, Sonia, and Ann Marie Ryan. 2013. “Not Welcome Here: Discrimination Towards Women Who Wear The Muslim Headscarf”. Human Relations 66 (5): 671-698. doi:10.1177/0018726712469540.

Jamil, Lydia. 2016. “A New Intersectional Model To Illuminate The Workplace Discrimination Of Arab-American And Muslim Women In The U.S.”. Philologia 8. doi:10.21061/ph.v8i0.3.

Jasperse, Marieke, Colleen Ward, and Paul E. Jose. 2011. “Identity, Perceived Religious Discrimination, And Psychological Well-Being In Muslim Immigrant Women”. Applied Psychology 61 (2): 250-271. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.2011.00467.x.

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