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A Discussion on the Muslim Travelling Experience, Racial Profiling and the 9/11 Terrorist Attack

A Discussion on the Muslim Travelling Experience, Racial Profiling and the 9/11 Terrorist Attack
Author: Megan Hunt
2 Commentries
This paper is a discussion of the factors that have led Muslims to now be afraid to travel in fear that they will stopped at security. One of the main factors that led to this is the 2001 terrorist attack which involved two planes crashing into to main buildings of the World Trade Centre. Additionally, the concept of racial profiling will also be discussed which is when an individual is judged on their appearance; something that many religions experience.

Key words:
Muslim, 9/11, Racism, Discrimination, Racial Profiling, Religion

On the 11th of September 2001, four planes were hijacked by Islamic terrorists and two were intentionally flown into the Twin Towers located in New York. The planes caused them to collapse, horrifying millions. The third was flown into the Pentagon whilst the fourth failed to hit is target which was the white house and crashed into a field nearby instead. Over 3000 lives were lost, including the 19 hijackers. The terrorist attack was deemed to be the worst incident the US has ever witnessed (BBC, 2018).

Following on from the attack, there showed to be high discrimination of Islamic people throughout airports. Discrimination is when an individual is judged because of their race, age, gender, religion or other different characteristics that they portray. It is a repeated occurrence in everyday life, even though it is deemed to be against the law. In order to attempt to stop discrimination, the Equality Act of 2010 was created in order to prove that everybody should be treated the same. This also links back to racism which is when a person is only discriminated because of their race, primarily targeting the variation of skin colours. Considering the creation of the equality act, this unfortunately does not stop people from being afraid of being discriminated when travelling as they hold a fear that they may be stopped or searched or worst case scenario, may not even be let on board of a flight. (Miles and Brown, 2003).

It has been stated that since the 9/11 attack, airlines have found any excuse to kick anybody who appears to be Arab or Muslim off their flights in fear that an attack like 9/11 while happen again. 9/11 proved that the security within the US was weak and that it had to be altered. Because of this weakness and the fact that the terrorist’s race was Islamic meant that it lead to a lot of Americans to be more cautious around the religion. Even to this day, people can still be unintentionally cautious around such races, especially within airports (Ahmed, 2016).

Many people who travel, especially Muslims, don’t always feel secure when doing so. They dread being able to travel freely due to factors such as 9/11 as a lot of Islamic people are now racial profiled for this terrorist attack. Racial profiling is when an individual is targeted because of their race and religion rather than their behaviour in different situations, such as airports. In today’s society, travelling as a Muslim can be a stressful experience; one main factor that has led to this experience is 9/11 (Ahmed, 2016). The only reason why 9/11 has caused airport security to be more cautious around Muslims is because the hijackers were Islamic, and that is the only apparent reason. Now many people think that if an individual is a Muslim then they've got a higher chance of being a terrorist (Miles and Brown, 2003).

When travelling, many Muslims will face the fear of being randomly selected by airport security. This fear can be worse for individuals who are more expressive about their religion. Muslims feel as though that they have had to change their behaviour to avoid getting stopped at security. Muslim and Middle Eastern men have considered shaving off their beards and dressing differently in order to avoid racial profiling (Miles and Brown, 2003; Ahmed, 2016).

Airlines and airports will always attract many different people across the globe due to the fact that people love to travel to different locations. Ever since planes were invented, people have been able to travel where ever they want with ease. Those who travel by plane and use airports will always be of different races and skin colours due to them being from all over the world, so of course there will always be a percentage of Arabs, Muslims, and Asians etc. that will travel too. This then means that they should be treated with the same respect as everybody else, and to not be racially profiled. However, due to modern day terrorism and views on such religions because of instances such as the 9/11 attack, the concept of racial profiling within airports may carry on for many years to come (Ahmed, 2016).

Ahmed, Y. (2016). It no longer feels safe to fly as a Muslim – and airlines are making a difficult situation worse. The Independent. [online] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/muslim-woman-aeroplane-syrian-book-detained-terror-laws-faziah-shaheen-a7171556.html [Accessed 4 May 2018].
BBC. (2018). The 9/11 terrorist attacks. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/events/the_september_11th_terrorist_attacks [Accessed 1 May 2018].
Miles, R. and Brown, M. (2003). Racism. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.
Race discrimination of Muslims in the post 9/11 world
Author: Alessia Pasqua
I decided to comment on this discussion paper because the topic it deals with was quite similar to the theme I explored in my conference sheet. Therefore basic understanding and knowledge regarding the topic can be applied and developed further in this commentary. This paper discusses the terror attack on the 11th of September 2001 and which consequences followed regarding the behaviour towards Islamic people and their personal feelings especially during their travels.

The first key issue that was explored in this discussion paper, was the terror attack 9/11. Followed by this attack, the conference paper mentioned that from this time on, especially Islamic people had to face discrimination at airports. To explain this further, 9/11 triggered an intensive islamophobia and "fear of other" in which members of Arab or Muslim communities are seen as the "others" of whom we should be afraid of. For this reason, especially Muslims have to face aversion and race discrimination during their travels (Torabian and Miller, 2017). In addition to that, the paper also dealt with the fact that especially within airports Muslim backgrounded people have to face race discrimination. Moreover, security got tighter and stricter, especially in nations like the US. Additionally to this fact, Muslims have to face unfair passport treatments like increased security checks or even entry bans (Stephenson and Ali, 2010). For instance, particularly nations like the US tightened their borders to shift towards terrorism and thus people from Arab and Muslim communities (Torabian and Miller, 2017).

The paper explored that Muslims do not feel secure when traveling because they are often racially profiled as "terrorists" since 9/11 and traveling as a Muslim can be a stressed experience; to explore this supplemental there exists no doubt that there is an interaction between tourism participation and race. Especially in the post 9/11 world, Muslim travel choices are effected by tighter border controls and how they get treated when traveling. Muslims get racially discriminated when traveling, are afraid to travel because of the islamophobia they are confronted with and even make race-related travel choices. Often they get labelled as a "terrorist" just for belonging to a Muslim community (Ngo, 2017).

Like the paper mentioned, it is proven that people love to travel and the ability to do so has increased through the plane. Sadly even if it is an individual's right to take part in tourism experiences, many Muslims have the unwillingness to do so because they face extreme unfair security treatments and racial discrimination when traveling (Torabian and Miller, 2017).


Ngo, H. (2017), Simulating the Lived Experience of Racism and Islamophobia: On Embodied Empathy and Political Tourism, Australian Feminist Law Journal, 43 (1), 107-124.

Stephenson, M.L., Ali, N. (2010), Tourism and Islamophobia: Muslims in non-Muslim states, Tourism in the Muslim Word (Bridging Tourism Theory and Practice), 2, 235-251.

Torabian, P. and Miller, M.C. (2017), Freedom of movement for all? Unpacking racialized travel experiences, Current Issues in Tourism, 20:9, pp. 931-945.
Post 9/11 discussion- How Muslims are still being discriminated
Author: Hollie Williamson
I have chosen to comment although the theme is very different to my own conference paper, it is a topic I find interesting and was a paper I found interesting to read and explore. The author of this paper has explored several topics around Muslim traveling.

The author of this conference paper uses a case study in the 9/11 attacks to set the scene of this discussion. Even years after the 9/11 terrorism it is still an attack that is very much being used as case studies. The author also discusses discrimination and provided explanations on several terms to allow the readers to understand the topic being discussed, this is very helpful and allows the reader to understand the topic fully.

An interesting section of this conference paper is the discussion regarding the treatment Muslims have faced when travelling after the 9/11 attacks. Muslims are still very much facing discrimination against them when travelling, especially when flying. Through no fault of their own simply asking questions, upgrading seats or simply asking for a beverage, Muslims are still being kicked off flights (Mohammed, 2016). As the author states Muslims now do not feel safe travelling due to the treatment they receive from others. Unfortunately the 9/11 terrorist attacks gave people fear of Muslims and caused people to look at them differently and treat them differently, which had ended in racial discrimination against them (Torabian, Miller, 2017). The action of a small minority of one religion has sadly caused discrimination against all.

This conference paper follows the discussion that Muslims are now facing unfair airport screening and checks. As the author mentions, a Muslim who is just honouring their religion by dressing for it can face a tremendous amount of fear of being pulled aside and discriminated for simply dressing a certain way and looking different to them. A Muslim who is just going about their travels like anybody else can be treated in a unacceptable manner, in 2016 a male student travelling home was removed from a plane, had all his possessions confiscated and left with no return ticket or refund for simply sending a text in his native language. The term “flying while Muslim” is exactly this that Muslim passengers are facing uncalled discrimination at airports since 9/11 (Khaleeli, 2016).

Finally the author makes an encouraging point that everybody should feel free to travel and feel safe travelling. Airports see such a high amount of race each day, nobody should feel discriminated for travelling. Sadly as the author mentions in this day and age and with the ever increasing amount of terrorism attacks the world is facing, this kind of discriminating behaviour will carry on.
To conclude, this author wrote a very interesting piece around Muslim travel following 9/11 and the feelings they face. It was explored in a correct manner and a topic that can be developed further.

Khaleeli, H. (2016). The perils of ‘flying while Muslim’. [Online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/08/the-perils-of-flying-while-muslim [Accessed 18 May 2018].

Mohammad, N. (2016). I didn't realize how often Muslims get kicked off planes, until it happened to me. [Online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/08/muslim-woman-kicked-off-american-airlines-flight-islamophobia [Accessed 18 May 2018].

Torabian, P. and Miller, M.C. (2017), Freedom of movement for all? Unpacking racialized travel experiences, Current Issues in Tourism, 20:9, pp. 931-945.