Tuesday marked the 17th anniversary of 9/11. But Sept. 12, 2001, was the day everything changed for Malik Nkosi, a Muslim American.
Nkosi, a doctoral student studying history at Morgan State University, recalls he was in a lab at his job when extremists associated with the group al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against various target locations in the U.S.
Nkosi did not know what was going on until someone came in and said, “these mother f***ers have bombed the United States.”
“I felt like this intense not belonging even though he been in the factory 15 years,” said Nkosi. “I fought to get the right to worship during jummah (Muslim Friday prayer), and I had led the charge about jummah while working there.”
Nkosi would encourage others to exercise their right, while attending mosque.
However, after 9/11, some of his other co-workers decided that they weren’t Muslim anymore.
“I was the only visible target,” Nkosi said. “They left me in the cold.”
Nkosi continued to wear his kufi and beads, but some of his friends whether they were African-American or White had started pulling away from him.
One guy at his job said, “I can’t believe it look at him, coming in here like he hasn’t done anything.”
“I received death threats on the bathroom walls, calls late at night and found out it was my supervisor. Someone followed me to the mosque for jummah and it was the head of HR.”
He also explained the frustration of replacing slashed tires and cleaning up food thrown on the car because security allegedly, “could never see footage of his car vandalized.”
The people responsible for the harassment ended up getting fired for what they did, but this consisted of three team leaders and two supervisors.
Approximately 3,000 people were killed during the terrorist attacks which led to major changes within the country regarding combat and Muslim Americans.
Hate crimes against Muslims and people who were to be perceived as Muslim were at an all-time high post 9/11.
Data from the FBI proves the number of hate crimes after 9/11 increased. In 2000 there were 28 incidents reported, and in 2001 there were 481.
As the years continued, hate crime incidents against Muslims are steadily above 100 incidents.
Rahmah Davis, a freshman architecture major at Morgan, recalls family members changing their behavior after the attack.
“My aunt covered her hijab a certain way, so they wouldn’t call her out wearing her hijab. Muslim women who covered had to change the hijab style, to like a turban style.”
She also explained this constant fear of being called out.
“I did take off my hijab when I was eight. I went to a Muslim school from kindergarten to second grade [and then left]. I didn’t want other people to judge me,” said Davis. “I feel like we are always being watched in way.”
“People’s perception of you and people’s perception of Islam changed [after the attack],” said Nkosi.