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Racial Profiling After 9/11: Bias Against Muslims In Different Countries

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Before September 11th, 2001, America was bringing about reforms concerning economic and cultural strength with the new advances in technology like phones and computers. However, it all changed that fateful day as one plane was hijacked and was forcibly flown into one of the Twin Towers, as another plane in the same situation followed shortly thereafter. With this incident, it drove the entire country into a panic and even the president acted quickly to declare war on Osama Bin Laden, a known terrorist, and terrorism (Pal, 2005). Going on with this act, the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and other departments within the government was established. But this did bring about problems as there were new sanctions put on Muslims and those from Muslim centered countries with airport security and policing as well. Some setbacks that came around were Muslims were racially targeted and many racist tips were made for anyone who even resembled a Muslim, whether they were one (Ahmad, 2004). There were many wrong moves made by all forms of police and security, as it drove the wedge between from Muslims and other ethnicities like Hispanics and Indians from their respected countries as they were fighting against the immigration policies that challenged their presence in countries like United States of America, Canada, and Australia.

As previously said, Muslims became the centralized target for racial profiling after the attack on the Twin Towers. Immigration laws and sanctions were changed significantly, and an increase of deportations came into effect as well. In a study made by Mishra and Lokaneeta (2012), they observed that many of the immigration policies created after the attacks were like those created during World War II with the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. Operational investigations and different initiatives that were enacted to correlate to the counterterrorism policies implemented after the initial attack and caused massive deputes as it was deemed unconstitutional and inhumane to those they detained. This shows the severity of these policies and how they were strict and harmful to those living in the states, whether they were on green card status or lived in the states for many years. This was unfair to sentence a whole group of one ethnicity for something that they were not involved in at all. The fear that radical Muslims with a terrorist mentality was still in the states and that they were growing the terror within the “home” of the States induced widespread fear and targeting of Muslims especially those who came to the country with visas and other documentation (pg 10). With this targeting by the police and others within their community, it made it hard for Muslims to get what they needed in terms of resources in the workplace and resources taking care of their families as most visas were for families rather than individuals in terms of the immigration process before 9/11. After the attack, a program called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) was created in order to corner though deemed suspicious at port of entry and interrogate them with domestic or call-in registration as failure to comply with this program at all could removed their status of future visa or permanent residency within the country through the Immigration and Nationality Act (pg 11). NSEERS was disbanded very shortly after its arrival to the counterterrorism program however the government continued to formulate ways to target Muslims and prevent any extremist acts after 9/11 (pg 12).

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Effects of immigration policy coming into the lives of Muslims were not just limited to America as many other countries adopted similar strict regulations after the attack out of fear that they were “next” considering Bin Laden’s plan was to instill fear not just in America but all across the world as well. In Canada, airport security became very tight and strict as many Americans and Muslims fled to Canada in order to gain safety and comfort away from the panicked mentality in the United States of America. In an article written by Mourtada (2004), he conducted an interview on Canadian Muslims and Arabs on how the effect of 9/11 has impacted them within the business world, specifically on two men named Omar Alghabra and Mohamed Elmasry. Alghabra found that his corporation supported and helped him achieve a waiver through the U.S. embassy to avoid discriminatory and mandated procedures on Muslims coming from Canada to the United States (pg 24). These procedures searched anyone with Muslim or Arab ethnicity and subjected to fingerprinting, interrogations, and photographing as if they were criminals for just being themselves. Luckily Alghabra had a supportive business that provided him accommodations in order to travel back and forth for work without further harassment by security at the airport both on his trip to the States and back, however, there are a large number of Canadian Muslims and Arabs that cannot get this kind of help as their corporations are heavily influenced by the racial profiling done by Americans to discriminate against their own workers who are of Muslim or Arab ethnicity. This correlates to another interview done by Martin on Canadian Muslims and their experience living in the country after the 9/11 attack. In this interview, Martin (2004) found that there was a massive debate over the Arar case that had many questionings Canadian citizenship and the policies the Canadian government has created in order to “protect” the country from any extremists’ acts. The Mahar Arar was a case of injustice deemed with the “extraordinary rendition” policy created with the Bush Administration as Ara sued the United States government over torture during his detaining at John F. Kennedy International Airport (pg 12). With this case, it caused a stir as Arar was from Syria, and his interrogation led to him being rendered back to Syria and being tortured in an underground cell for over 10 months, however, this case ruled to dismiss this lawsuit 7-4 as the Supreme Court ruled that they had no jurisdiction to hold the American officials that participated in the detainment because of foreign policy and secrecy concerns (pg 12). However, in 2015, the Canadian government that they were going to attempt to extradite one of the Syrian intelligence officers involved with the detainment of Arar in order to appease those displeased with the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss Arar’s case (pg 12).

Another case that found discrimination and racial profiling were in Australia, as it was called the “Melbourne Case” researched by Kabir in June 2011. Kabir (2011) found that most Muslims immigrated to Australia for the economic benefit of a welcoming economy as well as the opportunity for a better life, however, politicians moved to outcast them after the 9/11 attack and caused such anger and outrage that it led to a riot at a popular beach. Compared to America and Canada, politicians forced Muslims and Arabs living in Australia to resort to violent means in order to retaliate with their outcast position, as the discrimination drove them to the riot and cause an uproar within the mainstream media at the time (pg 243). A bill called Australian Security Intelligence Organization Legislation Amendment Terrorism Bill allowed officers to arrest anyone of suspicion for interrogational purposes as the detainee could be held up to seven days with the legislation and can be brought back in with another warrant within the lobby of the building they suspect was held in (pg 244). This also affected the families of those suspected and detained as they were viewed as people who had information that could assist in prevented terrorist behavior and could be pulled in to be detained as well (pg 244). With reforms in mind, politicians drafted and enacted the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act in 2005, which gave officers the “Shoot to Kill” initiative as they were able to use lethal life in the situation of protecting the life of the officer or someone else (pg 244). An incident of specific “racial profiling” was when the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) with the Australian Federal Police raided 30 residential houses and workplaces that they had deemed as a threat after the 9/11 bombings (pg 245). The “Melbourne Case” was interviews of seven Australian Muslim youth and their opinions on how the Australian media covers incidents like Cornella beach riots and immigration policies directly correlating to Muslims and Arab Australians. Kabir’s findings were that despite these participants being at a young age, the Australian media has a large influence on them and how they are viewed by society with the tensions between Australians and Muslim/Arab Australians (pg 256).

Racial profiling has existed since the beginning of cops and has been used in various amounts to combat crime, however after the 9/11 attack and the declaration on the war against terrorism has enacted a lot of changes, not just in the states, but also in different countries as well. With America, it sparks massive amounts of immigration policy and laws that enacted violence and discrimination towards Muslims especially revolving racial profiling and their interactions with law enforcement (Ahmad 2004). In today’s time, over 60% of eligible voters said that there should be some form of profiling should be needed in order to thwart America’s enemies and ensure public safety and national security as the war on terrorism has forced America to use profiling as a way to combat the wave of extremist Muslims ready to throw their lives away for the sake of their faith (Reddick, 2004). These policies enacted to protect the national security of the citizens have questions what it means to be fully “American” and creating a situation where the rights of a minority should be taken away in order to protect the boundaries of the members of the country (Schildkraut, 2009). With research, racial profiling is shown to be more effective to profile more towards suspicious behavior over race, as it has worked to catch many terrorists before their extremist acts, and to ensure the public safety of the citizens of the USA (Pal 2005). However, programs like NSEERS and operational initiatives to induce counterterrorism policies has caused substantial damage to the mental state of Muslims and Arabs, as they grow weary and fearful of becoming a victim of racial profiling over a victim of a hate crime within the country (Mishra, Lokaneeta, 2012). In Canada, a different situation is happening as discrimination and profiling with Canadian companies against Muslims and Arabian Canadians makes it hard for them to go through airport security both to other countries and back to Canada with extra measures like fingerprinting and photographing each and every time (Mourtada, 2004). This discrimination has damaged the relationship between Muslims and the business world as the influence of these immigration policies have made it hard for those to sustain themselves and be able to deal with all the pressure from their company and others around them (pg 25). Also in Canada, cases like Arar’s case and many others have extreme trouble being able to get past the discrimination and detainment required of security in order to preserve their faith and be able to live in the country without feeling like the are separate from the Canadian population (Martin, 2004). Lastly with the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2005 and the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Legislation Amendment Bill have, made it hard for those suspected of being involved with terrorist activity/behavior as their families could be detained as well for their interaction and the possibility of lethal force used against them makes it hard to get out of the system designed to trapped individuals like them by politicians and the media (Kabir 2011).


  1. Ahmad, M. I. (2004). A Rage Shared By Law: Post-September 11 Racial Violence as Crimes of Passion. California Law Review, 92(5), 1259–1330.
  2. Kabir, N. (2011). A Study of Australian Muslim Youth Identity: The Melbourne Case. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 31(2), 243–258
  3. Martin, A. (2004). “For the Worse.” Maclean’s, 117(9), 41–42.
  4. Mishra, S., & Lokaneeta, J. (2012). Subjects of “Suspicion”: Racial Profiling of Muslims, South Asians, and Arabs in the Post-9/11 U.S. Conference Papers -- American Political Science Association, 1–39.
  5. Mourtada, R. (2004). A climate of fear. Canadian Business, 77(7), 24–25.
  6. Pal, K. S. (2005). Racial Profiling as a Preemptive Security Measure After September 11: Suggested Framework for Analysis. Harvard Kennedy School Review, 6, 119–129.
  7. Reddick, S. R. (2004). Point: The Case for Profiling. International Social Science Review, 79(3/4), 154–156.
  8. Schildkraut, D. J. (2009). The Dynamics of Public Opinion on Ethnic Profiling After 9/11: Results From a Survey Experiment. American Behavioral Scientist, 53(1), 61–79.
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“Racial Profiling After 9/11: Bias Against Muslims In Different Countries.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
Racial Profiling After 9/11: Bias Against Muslims In Different Countries. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Mar. 2024].
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