The recent revelations that the U.S. monitored the email of five prominent American Muslims failed to shock the Muslim community in the U.S., writes Laila Alawa for The Guardian. American Muslims, by now long used to over a decade of domestic surveillance in and sanctioned discrimination of their communities, have plenty of reason to distrust their government.
And it’s shaping how Muslims in America view the country, and themselves. Writes Alawa:
Many from outside the Muslim American community have been shocked by these revelations and others like them. But for me — beyond the feeling that my long-held suspicions have been confirmed — the knowledge that my faith makes me suspicious in the eyes of the government to which I’ve pledged my allegiance, well, that fazes me less and less everyday.
And for every one of me, there is at least one other young person whose childhood has been shaped by the reality of constant surveillance, government stings and wannabe informants.
After 9/11, I learned quite quickly to keep my head down because I thought that, if I could stay under most people’s radars, I could thrive a world in which stories of warrantless deportations, faith-based workplace discrimination (and termination) and arrests that resulted in unending detention were common.
I was clearly not alone in making life choices based on my perception that I was — or could be — under surveillance. A 2014 study from the University of California at Berkeley showed that, whether or not Muslim Americans reported being monitored, they still felt significant levels of anxiety and anger about it.
Read Alawa’s piece in full at The Guardian.