Terrorists & Muslims: The Construction, Performance and Regulation of Muslim Identities in the Post-9/11 United States

67 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2006 Last revised: 24 Dec 2007

See all articles by Cyra Akila Choudhury

Cyra Akila Choudhury

Florida International University College of Law

Abstract

In this article, I examine and critique the construction, performance and regulation of Muslim identities in the United States. Focusing on three main characters - the Terrorists, the Believers and the Moderate - I trace the genealogy of these constructions from a common Arab stereotype to their present manifestation. I argue that these constructions are then deployed by the State and the dominant Muslim Community to regulate Muslims in the United States. I then argue that, because of their shared genealogy, performance of these identities implicates practicing Muslims as enemies/terrorists targeting them for regulation by the State. Such regulation includes uses of techniques based on racism and racialization of religion to detect bad Muslims. Moreover, the state deploys its own identity character (the Moderate) to demonstrate the kind of good Muslims who will be tolerated and exempted from regulation. In order to resist the regulation of the State, Muslims can either conform to State expectations, use anti-discrimination measures based on race and/or through more nuanced and less stereotypical performances of identity that unseat the dominant constructs in currency.

Keywords: race and Muslims, Muslim identity, discrimination against Muslims

Suggested Citation

Choudhury, Cyra Akila, Terrorists & Muslims: The Construction, Performance and Regulation of Muslim Identities in the Post-9/11 United States. Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 7, No. 3, April 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=939812

Cyra Akila Choudhury (Contact Author)

Florida International University College of Law ( email )

11200 SW 8th St.
RDB Hall 1097
Miami, FL 33199
United States

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