The negative impressions and differences between the Americans and the Middle Eastern people were first accelerated and exaggerated after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. This marked a time when the Americans paused to think about Arabs and other people from the Middle East, and what they wanted from the United States (U.S). The attacks led the American people to think negatively about Arabs and other people from the Middle East and this marked the beginning of great discrimination of the Middle Eastern people. This is not only seen in the streets when they pass by, and they get strange and curious stares from people walking in the streets, schools, and even in offices. As a matter of fact, it is not only people of Arab origin that face discrimination, but almost all Muslims in the U.S. face some kind of discrimination from non-Muslim Americans. This paper will discuss the different forms of discrimination that Arabs, Muslims or people from the Middle East face in the U.S. and how this discrimination affects their lives.
Muslims and Arabs or other people from different ethnic groups in the Middle East are entitled to the same constitutional rights and protection as the rest of the population in the U.S., however, their situation is far from what it should be. Currently, there is an ongoing struggle to end the violence and other acts of conflicts that threaten the freedoms of the Middle Eastern people in the U.S. The discrimination that Middle Eastern people face range from harassment, isolation, bad publicity by the media, to denial of their rights in schools and even at their workplaces. This discrimination, stereotyping and harassment of the Middle Eastern people saw the rise of hate crimes targeting Muslims by a stunning 1600% in just two years, from 2000 to 2001 (Brazeal 5) Another source recorded an increase of hate against Middle Eastern people from a record 354 attacks in to 1501 attacks in 2001 (Daraiseh 2). These attacks were driven by a lack of understanding between Middle Eastern people and the Americans. It did not matter whether the Middle Eastern people were guilty, religious, and political, or bent on committing crimes. There was a general misunderstanding among the public, and this led to an awkward aura of hatred.
The underlying belief in the discrimination against Arabs and other people from the Muslim community is the vague idea that all people from the Middle East are terrorists and that they were all responsible for the September, 2001 attacks in the U.S. As a matter of fact, most Middle Eastern people have been characterized as being a threat, disloyal, and foreign. Despite the fact that the Arabs may be of different origins and personalities, the distinctions that exist between them come across as insignificant, in the U.S. The negative stereotypes in the U.S. are attributed to all people from the Middle Eastern part of the world regardless of their countries of origin or personalities. The distinctions between people from the Middle East still do not count when it comes, to singling out Arabs as the main subjects of other wrongful discriminations as experienced since September, 2001.
This discrimination, harassment, and hatred included all people who share the Arab culture or Arabic language even if their origin is not in Arabia. As a matter of fact, what most people did not realize is the fact that most Arabs do not even speak Arabic. Many people from the Middle East come from other countries including Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, Djibouti, Morocco, Comoros Islands, Bahrain, Algeria, and Lebanon, among many other countries. There is a total of approximately 22 countries with people of an Arab descent, and most Arabs in the U.S, come from any of these countries. Most people from these countries still suffer discrimination and hatred from Americans despite their different origins, beliefs, and motifs in the U.S. This is an unfair generalization and mode of treatment because most people with a Middle Eastern origin are innocent with clean intentions, and they are truly nice.
The discrimination they face in the form of harassment is among the most humiliating and offensive acts that people from the Middle East suffer. Harassment involves severe annoyance and overly disturbing or threatening treatment from other people. This may be in the streets, in the neighborhoods, at school or even in the offices. Such harassment involves the unfair treatment of people with a Middle Eastern origin on the basis of prejudice because of their ethnicity. Most of the harassment that these people face goes unnoticed and unattended to, and at times results in dire negative consequences. There are instances where students drop out of school because of the constant hindrances that they face, or because they have a difficult time learning and concentrating on their studies. Such students may also suffer from physical and emotional torture or they may be provoked to take matters into their own hands and yield to the negative treatment they get from their fellow students (Daraiseh 3).
Language is one of the contributing factors of discrimination among the Middle Eastern people in the U.S. This explains the reason why most Americans discriminate people from the Middle East despite the fact that most of them may be strangers. Therefore, the Americans may not have the slightest reasons to discriminate against them. In addition, other Middle Eastern people may face discrimination because of their culture, behavior, or culture shock. Some of them may find the culture and behavior of people in the U.S. as strange and unacceptable. This may cause them to act in inappropriate ways and trigger hatred and discrimination from the Americans. Such culture shock results from their dressing styles, which is different from that of the U.S people or even their cuisine. Any of these or other behaviors and characteristics may cause people in the U.S., to discriminate against individuals from the Middle East, and treat them differently.
The treatment, harassment, and discrimination that people from the Middle East face in the U.S. have compromised their rights because most people do not take time to understand them and their culture. On the contrary, most Americans generalize people from the Middle East and consider all of them to be Arabs. Because of this generalization, the U.S. government proposed that the only sure way to end the discrimination against people from the Middle East is to reclassify them and treat them as a separate entity (Brazeal 9). Such reclassification of people from the Middle East will give them an increased recognition as they will be viewed differently from other minority groups and they will not have, to sacrifice some of their rights as citizens of the U.S. to get positive publicity. This move will also mark the first effort in ending the discrimination that people from the Middle East face as collective people and they will get the chance, to build their identity.
At the moment, there is little or no discourse at all about people from the Middle East in the U.S. This is partly because one of the ways in which people in the U.S. view the Middle Eastern people emerges through education. There is a great push for people from the Middle East to carry out their studies in the U.S. to access the best academic environments. This also involves the reintroduction of the Middle Eastern culture in different ways from the usual stereotyped people that most people in the U.S. are familiar. This introduction of the Middle Eastern culture and the different treatments they received was introduced under the influence of Edward Said, who was an activist through a Congressional Bill passed on the 21st October, 2003 (Pogue & Sci 3). This new bill required universities in the U.S to show more support and equal treatment on students from the Middle East, or else face the risk of losing their federal funding. This new view of students from the Middle East was based on the idea that Americans can only view the Middle Eastern population differently through education. This new view of the Middle Eastern people could also lead to the development of a representative and qualitative assessment of the Middle Eastern people.
Discrimination of Middle Eastern People in the United States of America is real. There are instances where the preset prejudices are clearly seen; first it is important to know what discrimination entails. Discrimination refers to treating one person or in this case a group of people in a manner that is unfair or poorly compared to other people who are not from the said group. There are different and vast ways in which this discrimination can be present. There is discrimination in the distribution of employment opportunities. Wage disparity is a glaring difference when it comes to this kind of discrimination. For instance, individuals from the Middle East could be doing the same kind of work, and get a lower wage compared to whites. In addition, here is racial profiling and even sidelining (Daraiseh 13).
On the ninth day of September 2001, America was hit by terrorists and since then the situation has worsened for Americans of the Middle Eastern descent. There has been an increase in racism against Middle Eastern people. Such discrimination is prevalent even in the public domain. For instance, when there is security checks in domains such as airports, or malls, individuals from the Middle East become subjects of prejudice. They could be screened more or held back for a more thorough frisk or they could be questioned in a humiliating way sending the message that their type cannot be trusted. People see a Middle Eastern and assume that they are terrorists.
People who come from the Middle East are taking the heat for what a few fanatics are responsible for in the name of their beliefs. Discrimination carries with it myriad of negative effects on those who are on the receiving end. The people of Middle Eastern descent who live in America are discriminated because of their religion. They are largely Muslims, and there is a belief that they are inclined in heinous acts just because a minority of their kin is perpetrating terrorism activities (Pogue and Sci 4). There is discrimination against women who wear the Hijab, a headgear used by Muslim women. There is also the discrimination of men who wear the robes and skull cap. The fact that their appearance is different also subjects them to discrimination.
Brazeal, Jennifer Y. “Discrimination in the New Millenium: Terrorizing Middle-Easterns, Retraction of Civil Liberties, and the USA Patriot Act.” Digital Commons at Michigan State University College of Law (2004): 1-28. .
Daraiseh, Isa. “Effects of Arab American Discrimination Post 9/11 in the Contexts of the Workplace and Education .” McNair Scholars Research Journal (2012): 1-19. Vol. 4, No.1.
Pogue, Eric and Poly Sci. ” Still Searching for Affirmative Action Rights.” Discrimination Against Middle Eastern Americans (2009): 1-5.