Discussing Terrorism, After 9/11

It has been sixteen years since the Twin Towers collapsed, forever changing the physical and emotional landscape of those who call the United States their home, and those worldwide who stand in solidarity. Today, we remember those we’ve lost. But we also consider the changes that 9/11 has brought, such as it’s impact on democracy, and how we can remind future generations of students and people about what this day means.

Since 9/11, how have our discussions about terrorism, whether it be by individuals or groups, changed? And how do we view other people worldwide in light of what has happened since that day?

Below, we’ve included some recommended reading to help share the continuing conversation on terrorism and its impact on our global society. #neverforget #Sept11th #Remember911

The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security before and after 9/11 edited by Sylvester A. Johnson and Steven Weitzman

“Over its 109 years of existence, these historians [of this edited volume] and their colleagues argue, the Bureau has shaped American religious history through targeted investigations and religiously tinged rhetoric about national security.”—The Atlantic

Hear more about timely lessons for the FBI in the age of Trump. And read a sample chapter from the book.

Terror in the Mind of God, Fourth Edition: The Global Rise of Religious Violence by Mark Juergensmeyer. 

“Juergensmeyer’s work is a sensitive, comparative study of terrorist movements and the religious beliefs that motivate them.”—Washington Post

Read an excerpt regarding Burmese Buddhists and the persecution of Rohingya Muslims. And read a sample chapter from the book.


Constructions of Terrorism: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Research and Policy edited by Michael Stohl, Richard Burchill, and Scott Howard Englund

“Counter-terrorism would be less counterproductive if policymakers would take heed of their advice.” —Alex P. Schmid, Research Fellow and Director of the Terrorism Research Initiative at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, The Hague

And read the introduction from the book.


The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to ISIS, Updated Edition with a New Preface and Final Chapter edited by Gérard Chaliand and Arnaud Blin

“Provides a useful and levelheaded survey of a subject that is regularly misunderstood and often manipulated.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“A recommendable book for sociologists, anthropologists and social scientists who are interested by these types of hot topics.”—International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies

Read a sample chapter from the book.

Caravan of Martyrs: Sacrifice and Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan by David B. Edwards 

“Such a beautifully written and imaginative work comes along rarely—at once a deeply felt personal memoir about the author’s anthropological encounters with Afghanistan and a highly original theory about suicide bombing as sacrifice.”—Steven C. Caton, Khalid Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman Al Saud Professor of Contemporary Arab Studies, Harvard University

Read a sample chapter from the book.

A Culture of Conspiracy, 2nd Edition: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America by Michael Barkun

“Ideas, even bizarre and marginalized ideas, do have consequences, and we ignore them at our peril. Barkun’s explorations, like the canary in the coal mine, warn us of what may lie ahead.”—Paul Boyer Christian Century

Read an interview with the author. And read an excerpt from the book.


The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays by Richard Taruskin

“This is one of the most important books about music you’ll read this year. . . . No one has bridged the gap between music scholarship and mainstream media as virtuosically as Taruskin.”—Tom Service The Guardian

Read a sample chapter from the book.

The Future of Religious Minorities in the Era of Trump

by Steven Weitzman and Sylvester Johnson, editors of The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security Before and After 9/11

Some disturbing lessons from the Case Files of the FBI:

On the day he was elected, Donald Trump’s plan to ban all foreign Muslims from entering the United States disappeared from his website, raising the hope that he is quietly walking back one of his most notorious proposals. But American Muslims and others concerned about religious liberty in the US are hardly reassured.

Earlier in the campaign, Trump garnered support by advocating for the surveillance of every American mosque; he approved the idea of additional law enforcement patrols of Muslim neighborhoods, and he called for compiling a national database of Muslims, insisting that they would have to register. He even suggested that it would be legitimate to close certain mosques where “some bad things were happening.” As we write this, American Muslims are reeling from a turn of events that threatens their religious liberty and other rights and even their sense of personal safety.

FBI and Religion

Trump’s statements about Muslims helped to propel him to electoral victory, but they have also greatly alarmed those concerned about civil and religious liberties. They are part of what the ACLU had in mind when it described Trump as a “one-man constitutional crisis,” though legal scholars debate whether a ban on Muslim non-U.S. citizens would actually be unconstitutional.

Our experience in co-editing The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security Before and After 9/11, has taught us that not only is such a surveillance regime conceivable: it also has precedent in American history. Drawing together contributions from more than a dozen scholars, the volume covers the history of the FBI’s interactions with various religious communities—Protestant, Catholics, Jews—and it shows that the Bureau has a long track-record of surveilling, infiltrating, and occasionally harming religious communities and leaders that it deems a threat. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies play a critical role in defending religious communities from hate crimes, but this history suggests that that they too can succumb to suspicion and stereotype, and become forces of persecution in their own right.

The FBI’s treatment of American Muslims is a textbook example. FBI surveillance of Muslims did not begin with 9/11. It did not even begin with the Nation of Islam in the 1950s and ‘60s, an organization the FBI successfully fragmented by creating internal conflicts and stoking violence. We traced the story to the 1940s and the FBI’s treatment of a community known as the Moorish Science Temple of America.

Continue reading “The Future of Religious Minorities in the Era of Trump”

Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond

Backlash 9/11Anny Bakalian is Associate Director and Mehdi Bozorgmehr
is Co-Director of the Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center at
the Graduate Center, City University of New York
. Bozorgmehr is also
Associate Professor of Sociology at the City College and the Graduate
Center, City University of New York. Their latest endeavor, was writing Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond, which was published by UC Press in January 2009. Their blog entry below, talks about their inspirations for the book.

By: Anny Bakalian and Mehdi Bozorgmehr

Almost immediately after September 11th, we began receiving calls asking us about the backlash against Middle Eastern communities. We were both troubled by the violence being committed, even against people whose origins weren’t remotely similar to those of the hijackers. The government loudly proclaimed that violence against Muslim and Middle Eastern Americans would not be tolerated. However, for the communities affected, the actions of the government and fellow Americans spoke louder than words.  Unfortunately, many men from these communities were deported, detained without charges, and required to register with authorities. Profiling was widespread and “flying while Muslim” became a liability.

About a week after the attacks, there was a request from the National Science Foundation for research proposals regarding any aspect of 9/11.  We applied within a week, and 24 hours later we received a grant. As anyone who has ever applied for any sort of funding knows, that sort of fast turnaround is unheard of.

After considering our options, we decided the best way to study the backlash would be to talk with the leaders of community organizations, many of whom had become representatives of their populations in the local and national media. We interviewed 75 leaders across the country.  While we had set out to study a backlash, something that has sadly happened at various times in our nation’s history, we began to find that the targeted communities were responding in unprecedented ways.

Instead of hiding from public attention, organizations representing Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans mobilized to demonstrate their commitment to the United States while defending their rights. They distanced themselves from the terrorists and condemned their actions. They educated the public about the Middle East and the Muslim faith through the media, books and pamphlets, and presentations in churches, synagogues and colleges. They actively involved their constituents in voter-registration, know-your-rights forums, and civic and political integration activities.

Our book tells a story, part of which we didn’t initially expect to be writing. In addition to the backlash committed by both the U.S. government and ordinary citizens, we found ourselves also telling a story of resistance on the part of Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans. In comparison to the treatment of the Germans during WWI and the Japanese during WWII, the post-9/11 backlash was tempered. We believe that the existence of Civil Rights laws and advocates were critical to this outcome. The lesson we wish to draw from our work is that Civil Rights Laws must not be compromised but strengthened to prevent profiling and scapegoating in the future.