How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'Isn’t this the land of the free?' Growing up in an era of Muslim stereotypes

Photo by iMuslim/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Last week, Yasmin Nouh joined four other young people on the Patt Morrison Show to talk about growing up Muslim in the decade following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Here she expands on that interview, sharing her perspective in a first-person essay.

Yasmin, whose parents are immigrants from Egypt and Iran, was barely in her teens when she heard the devastating news of what had occurred in New York that morning. She writes about what followed and how, as she experienced it, helped shape who she would become.


My eyes, still heavy with sleep, lit up wide open when my father told us the spine-chilling news as he drove us to school in the morning: Two planes turned missile had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. At 13 years old, I barely understood the gravity of the terrorist attacks. When I asked who the hijackers were, he said the United States had identified Osama bin Laden as a likely suspect.

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Five young Muslims who came of age post-9/11 share their experiences

Photo by cruxphotography.com/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A girl at a rally in New York, September 11, 2010

A post this morning involved one young Lebanese American woman's experience growing up in Los Angeles following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In a first-person essay, she described the bullying that she and her sister were subjected to, a relatively common occurrence in the confusing months that followed.

But years passed and as the nation healed, young Muslims growing up in the shadow of the attacks continued to feel stigmatized. Among them were young women who wore hijab, the religious headscarves worn by many Muslim women, who endured stares and suspicion.

Earlier this week, KPCC's Patt Morrison interviewed five young Muslims who were either children or entering early adulthood at the time the hijackers attacked the World Trade Center. They shared their experiences coming of age in post-9/11 America and how it shaped them, for better or worse. An excerpt:

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A half-dozen ways in which 9/11 changed the immigration landscape

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Special agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) search a vehicle heading into Mexico at the Hidalgo border crossing on May 28, 2010 in Hidalgo, Texas. T

Last May, after the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan, I published a short list of some of the most important ways in which the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that he masterminded radically altered the immigration landscape.

The legislative, policy and other changes that have occurred since are almost too numerous to list. Last month, the Migration Policy Institute released a report detailing some of the policy highlights, more than a dozen changes ranging from skyrocketing border and interior immigration enforcement costs to changes in the way we travel (for example, U.S. citizens must now present passports when returning by land, even if it's from a quick day trip to Tijuana).

Beyond immigration policy, there have been legislative changes such as the still-active Patriot Act, along with less direct but powerful shifts in the nation's immigration climate that have had led to enforcement-friendly policies and increasingly strict immigration measures at the state level. Less quantifiable, but important still, have been attitudinal changes, particularly toward Muslims, which continue to affect immigrants today.

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