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911MuslimsArticlebyng - American Behavioral Scientist...

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http://abs.sagepub.com American Behavioral Scientist DOI: 10.1177/0002764207307746 2008; 51; 659 American Behavioral Scientist Michelle D. Byng Complex Inequalities: The Case of Muslim Americans After 9/11 http://abs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/51/5/659 The online version of this article can be found at: Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com can be found at: American Behavioral Scientist Additional services and information for http://abs.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://abs.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: © 2008 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. at SANTA CLARA UNIV on February 11, 2008 http://abs.sagepub.com Downloaded from
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659 Author’s Note: This article was presented at the Association of Muslim Social Scientists Conference, September 30–October 2, 2005, Philadelphia, PA. A research grant from the Department of Sociology, Temple University, supported the data collection for this project. I would like to thank Elisa Bernd, my research assistant. Please address correspondence to Michelle D. Byng, Department of Sociology, 713 Gladfelter Hall, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122; e-mail: [email protected] American Behavioral Scientist Volume 51 Number 5 January 2008 659-674 © 2008 Sage Publications 10.1177/0002764207307746 http://abs.sagepub.com hosted at http://online.sagepub.com Complex Inequalities The Case of Muslim Americans After 9/11 Michelle D. Byng Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have redefined the meaning of religious minority identity for Muslim Americans. When religious identities are central to U.S. political conflicts, they shift from supporting adaptation to American society to facili- tating inequality. Using newspaper articles published in the northeastern region of the United States and The Washington Post between May 2002 and May 2003, the follow- ing analysis investigates how Muslim religious identity comes to mimic the inequality of race identity via essentialist images of Islam, government policies, and experiences of discrimination. Benign markers of difference no longer exist in American society; instead, any identity that designates a group boundary can be used to organize social inequality. The religious minority identity of Muslim Americans following 9/11 signals the complexity of social inequality and, therefore, the difficulty of achieving social justice. Keywords: Muslim Americans; religious minorities; September 11; racism T he terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, connect Muslims and Islam to terrorism within the geographical borders of the United States. These events have the potential to reshape the meaning of religious minority identity for Muslim Americans. To understand this change requires looking beyond the cultural repro- duction that takes place inside ethnically based religious institutions to how religious minority identity is socially constructed external to the group in question. Rather
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