This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror

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Winner of the 2016 Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Arab American Book Award

A collection of insightful and heartbreaking essays on Muslim-American life after 9/11

Over the last few years, Moustafa Bayoumi has been an extra in Sex and the City 2 playing a generic Arab, a terrorist suspect (or at least his namesake “Mustafa Bayoumi” was) in a detective novel, the subject of a trumped-up controversy because a book he had written was seen by right-wing media as pushing an “anti-American, pro-Islam” agenda, and was asked by a U.S. citizenship officer to drop his middle name of Mohamed.

Others have endured far worse fates. Sweeping arrests following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led to the incarceration and deportation of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, based almost solely on their national origin and immigration status. The NYPD, with help from the CIA, has aggressively spied on Muslims in the New York area as they go about their ordinary lives, from noting where they get their hair cut to eavesdropping on conversations in cafés. In This Muslim American Life, Moustafa Bayoumi reveals what the War on Terror looks like from the vantage point of Muslim Americans, highlighting the profound effect this surveillance has had on how they live their lives. To be a Muslim American today often means to exist in an absurd space between exotic and dangerous, victim and villain, simply because of the assumptions people carry about you. In gripping essays, Bayoumi exposes how contemporary politics, movies, novels, media experts and more have together produced a culture of fear and suspicion that not only willfully forgets the Muslim-American past, but also threatens all of our civil liberties in the present.

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7 reviews for This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror

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  1. Amazon Customer

    A great collections of essays that covers a variety of aspects of Muslim American experience! A great place to start if you want to learn about American Muslims, but also in-depth and insightful for those who are looking for more depth of coverage.

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  2. Mike Mitchell

    Great

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  3. Marwa Moaz

    Important for muslims and non muslims to read!

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  4. Ronald Centner Sr.

    Wow…powerful

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  5. MyHumbleOpinion

    I decided to read this book because I read Moustafa Bayoumi’s How it Feels to be a Problem, and really enjoyed it. In that book, I was surprised to find out just how bad the treatment of Muslim Americans has been since 9/11. I was not surprised because I think America is perfect, I was surprised because I have good friendships with Muslim Americans and I was surprised they never told me anything about it! After reading this latest work This Muslim American Life, I understood more about why my friends are maybe in a strange position to tell me how they feel about how they are treated in this country. Muslims are subjected to what Bayoumi describes as a world where “the police aim to patrol the minds of Muslims for what they think and not for their actions” – in a sort of “Minority Report world.” Bayoumi successfully proves what it must feel like to share your thoughts with people when your thoughts are supposedly known by everyone based on the stereotypes created by the fear mongering of our government and reinforced by entertainment. I was most shocked to learn that the CIA actively participates with Hollywood to essentially be presented the way they want the agency to be seen. There are seemingly limited ways that Muslim Americans have to make sure they are being presented fairly, which is why Bayoumi’s book is so important. I will never be able to pretend some of my favorite shows, like Homeland, are harmless shows to watch. For some reason, even though I’m an educated person and feel I’m pretty sympathetic to the treatment of Muslims in American and committed to the eradication of racism and bias – even I could not see just how harmful this show can be to Muslims. Bayoumi explains that Homeland “ suggests that all Muslims in the Untied States are potential terrorists, terrorist sympathizers, or associates of terrorists…A casual viewer will watch the show and believe the equivalence between being Muslim and being a terrorist and that the only way to break this wicked connection would be to volunteer your talents to the Americans. There is no third way.” Maybe I’m naïve, but I watched this show and thought that the representations of Muslim terrorists were so outrageous and contrasted with some “good Muslims” so that meant it was fair and balanced. I have the luxury of watching it and just enjoying it and because I don’t view Muslims as terrorists, I felt it did nothing to change how I felt about them. Bayoumi asserts that because most Americans don’t actually KNOW a REAL Muslim, these stereotypes are particularly dangerous. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, the show is kind or ruined for me because Bayoumi so masterfully explains how each show that features Muslims follows the same old formula. There is no room for just a plain-old regular Muslim American. Someone like the people I actually know – teachers, writers, dentists, students, etc. I applaud the author for his attention to detail, bravery, and creativity in writing a book that could be the catalyst for change in this country. I think it is an essential read in college classes. And I must also mention that it is not just a serious, scholarly read – many of the essays are witty and fun. This balance makes him accessible and relatable.

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  6. Mohammad Qamar

    Excellent and informative

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  7. J. Weston

    great book.

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    This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror
    This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror

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