INITIATIVE RELEASES REPORT ON THE IMPACT OF POST-9/11 DISCRIMINATION
ON SOUTH ASIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., September 11, 2006 — The Discrimination and National Security Initiative (DNSI) released a report, entitled "We are Americans Too: A Comparative Study of the Effects of 9/11 on South Asian Communities," on the five-year memorial of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
The report addresses the impact of and the responses to the discrimination that South Asians faced since 9/11, focusing specifically on Indian Hindus, Pakistani Muslims, and Sikhs in the Washington, DC area. Through in-depth interviews conducted over the course of two years, the study revealed that 9/11 has had different effects on the identity, political participation, and grassroots mobilization efforts of members of these groups.
The main findings of the study showed that Sikh American respondents, particularly those with turbans, were most affected by hate crimes and incidents in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Of the three groups, Pakistani Muslim respondents were the most greatly affected by government policies and programs after 9/11, including Special Registration and the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Indian Hindu respondents, by
contrast, were largely unaffected by the post-9/11 backlash. Notable findings from the report include:
* After 9/11, only 15% of Indian Hindu respondents felt afraid for their physical safety, as compared to 41% of Pakistani Muslim respondents and 64% of Sikh respondents.
* 83% of Sikh respondents said they or someone they knew personally had experienced a hate crime or incident.
* 35% of Pakistani Muslim respondents considered leaving the United States because of the hostile post-9/11 environment. 86% of Pakistani Muslim respondents also said they became more interested in domestic and international politics after 9/11, and generally they felt more of a desire to participate politically.
June Han, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University, authored the report. "We now live in an era in which individuals who are or are perceived to be Arab or Muslim, including South Asians, are viewed with suspicion because of their religious background and/or the color of their skin," said Han. The full report may be accessed online at http://www.dnsi.org.
DNSI was founded after 9/11 to examine the mistreatment of minority communities during times of military action or national crisis. The project specifically aims to chronicle such mistreatment in an information repository and to present the human consequences of this mistreatment in original reports. The report released today is the first extensive study sponsored and issued by DNSI.
Dawinder "Dave" Sidhu, a Founding Director of DNSI, notes that the project was "created in response to a climate in which Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim were being killed, harassed, and subject to other noxious behavior, and in which meaningful academic information did not exist as to the human impact of this climate."
The report discusses respondents' reactions to various situations after 9/11. At times, they were left wondering why they did not get jobs or promotions, or why someone sitting next to them on a plane would ask to be reseated. In many cases, they concluded that these types of occurrences resulted from 9/11-related discrimination.
The report also examines the emergence of hyphenated-identities after 9/11, such "Muslim-American," and the practice of Sikhs and others putting up American flags on their homes and cars to prove their allegiance to America.
"Many Americans know that hate crimes took place after 9/11, but we, as a nation, have yet to understood the ongoing impact of such violence, or how it continues to divide us." said Founding Director of DNSI Valarie Kaur, whose new documentary film on the subject Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath premieres across the country this fall. "We hope that the work of DNSI helps fill this gap."
More information about the report and other projects of DNSI may be found at http://www.dnsi.org. DNSI is an affiliate of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.
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