The attacks of 9/11 changed the course of history and affected many communities. The Muslim American community was particularly impacted by the attacks and have had to face growing Islamophobia. Throughout the Inside Islam project, we have explored some of the central challenges to the Muslim American community, which include questioning their national identity and their place in American society. Some question this group’s loyalty to their country and the possibility of being both Muslim and American. The entire nation was affected by the attacks; yet, 10 years later there is not enough exploration of what Muslim Americans faced in the days after 9/11. In February, a new project was launched to make a film called nine/twelve, a film that will explore the experience of Muslims right after the attacks.
This film is one of a few that examine this topic. I have written earlier posts on two other examples: My Name is Khan and Mooz-lum. Both of these films look at the attacks from the point of view of Muslims. Both films depict the backlash that some Muslims felt after the attacks. The aim of both films is to demonstrate that Muslims were also affected by the events of 9/11 and were sometimes blamed for the acts of others. In some cases, as the two films show, the fear right after the attacks resulted in violence towards ordinary Muslims.
nine/twelve is meant to be a personal story that shows how Muslim Americans who were considered to be patriotic before the attacks became the targets of fear and suspicion. The film traces this transition and the impact it had on this community. It also shows how people from different backgrounds were brought together after the attacks. According to Khurram Mozaffar, the screenwriter, he had been thinking about the idea of the film for several years. However, he felt greater urgency for the project after the 10th anniversary. The kick start for the funding began after Lowe’s pulled its advertising from the show All-American Muslim. For Mozaffar, the controversy over the show indicated that Muslims continued to be perceived negatively and he wanted to help change that.
Films are one of many mediums that Muslim Americans are using to try to change the image of Islam and Muslims. Whether it be music, comedy, or drama, Muslims are trying to challenge the stereotypes and demonstrate that the attackers do not represent their faith and that there is no conflict between being Muslim and American.
What do you think about the idea of nine/twelve? Are there other films that look at the Muslim experience after 9/11? Do you think that films like this one can make a difference in countering Islamophobia? How do you think that the attacks have affected the Muslim American community? Please share your comments below.