Muslim Men of Arab Origin Stereotypes

Muslim Men of Arab Origin: Stereotypes


Institutional Affiliation:


People are often judged based on their race and gender. Some of these stereotypes are so deeply ingrained in our minds that we do not realize how we act affects others. Some stereotypes are based on past actions; for example, it can be assumed that immigrants are poor, black people are less educated and belong to a lower class than white people among many others. While these stereotypes have caused a lot of pain and hurt to the receiving parties, it would be silly to sweep them under the rug. It is crucial to address these issues to raise awareness and educate ourselves on consciously treating each other with respect regardless of race, gender, religion, and ethnicity. An example of the interaction of national citizenship, gender, and religion and immigrant status is in the profiling of male Muslim men for terror-related incidents.

Terror related incidents have become very common in the past few years. There have been bombings and shootings in all sorts of places including clubs, airports, schools, churches and other public spaces. Most recently a deadly shooting in a New Zealand mosque left multiple worshipers dead. The perpetrators of these heinous acts cannot be categorized into a single demographic; they come from different backgrounds. These incidents have led to stepping up of security measures in many countries of the world as no country can be safe from the ruthless mercenaries causing death and destruction in their wake. Among these measures of security include profiling and surveillance of potential terrorists based on factors such as country of origin, immigrant status among others. However, human rights activists have come out to label some of these acts as a witch-hunt.

The United States has been the victim of many terror-related activities, the worst of which was the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center on September 9th, 2011 (Gould & Klor 2016). Hundreds upon hundreds of people were killed and many others injured. United States embassies in Africa were also targets of bombings. Osama bin Laden was suspected of having been the mastermind of these attacks and the US launched an offensive in Afghanistan in search of terrorists. It was later joined by other countries to counter the threat that was fast becoming global (Shay 2017). Al-Qaeda had a strong presence in Afghanistan, and the war against them went on for years, leaving many dead and property destroyed. Osama was finally killed in 2016 by US troops. The war has mostly been successful with a lot of territories previously held by the insurgents now under the control of peacekeeping forces. The government of Afghanistan has vowed to keep fighting terrorists within its borders.

Outside Afghanistan, matters are quite different. Many men today have found themselves victims of harassment due to suspected terrorist connections. Specific countries such as Syria are breeding and training grounds for terrorist operations from where operatives are sent to other parts of the world for missions. The preferred choice of attack is suicide bombs. Because of this, there is heightened surveillance of people traveling from such countries.

Being a male Muslim man of Arab origin is equivalent to having a target on your back. They have been profiled due to the combination of all these factors which can be analyzed separately but lead to the same conclusion. The first focus is on gender. Many terrorist activities have been historically carried out by men. An analysis of all crimes related to terror carried out all over the world involves the male gender. Women usually play a different role of being homemakers taking care of the family as the men go out and plan their activities. Women loyal to the cause are willing to move to other cities and countries to become Isis brides, and this has also been used to profile them (Spencer 2016).

The second factor is religion, specifically Islam. It should be clear that not all terror activities can be attributed to Muslims alone; the killers are from every religious background. However, many of them have professed that their religious beliefs are what motivate them to carry out their atrocious activities. This is however not true as Muslims have come out to condemn these sentiments. Muslims explain that theirs is a religion of love and peace and that Allah would never allow the taking of an innocent human life. Terrorists have taken their faith out of context and twisted it into something vile and evil.

The third factor is national citizenship or origin. Men of Arab descent have been profiled for surveillance in regard for connection to terror activities. Countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia are known to be home to sympathizers and perpetrators of terrorism (Cherney & Murphy 2016). An Arab man can, therefore, be assumed to have some ties with terror. Many people traveling all over the world innocently have fallen victim to harassment and suspicion based solely on their homeland.

Immigrant status is another factor to be considered in profiling terrorist. People move to a different country for many reasons including education, war, and political situations among others. It would be unjust therefore to subject immigrants to some discriminatory treatments just because they look and talk a certain way (Calamur 2016). Many people are merely trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Immigrants can be subject to lack of work and other forms of discrimination because they are suspected of being in the country illegally.

Many countries have watch lists containing names of people suspected to have ties with terrorists. Inevitably these names turn out to belong to young Muslim Arab men from the Middle East or North Africa. Women too are subjected to extra checks when traveling as they could be supporters of terrorist organizations. Their communications are also surveilled to keep track of what they say and to whom. Remittances to other countries are also subject to scrutiny just in case they are funding terrorist activities overseas (Cherney & Murphy 2016).

As is the case with many other stereotypes, the one against immigrant Muslim men of Arab origin cause a lot of pain and anger and can have negative consequences. Many people have come forward with claims that they have been mistreated especially in the hands of authorities for no other reason than their language, their religion, appearance, and manner of dressing. They have been subjected to humiliating searches that are entirely unwarranted. Even among the general population, these stereotypes are quite common. The unfortunate part is that some leaders propagate fear and hate based on these hurtful and unfounded stereotypes. They do not realize much harm they have caused to innocent people who would like to live in a free, peaceful and just world like anyone else. They have no wish to receive harsh glances as they are led away for a more thorough search or face more protracted questioning when receiving any service.

It is essential that we learn to let go of assumptions that have no basis. Before acting in a manner that depicts another human being in a negative light, put yourself in their shoes. It is very easy to judge people that we do not even know. What if the young man seated across from you was your brother, would you be so quick to make unwarranted judgments about them? We should treat each other as human beings just the way we would like others to treat us. The world today is full of unfair stereotypes that have led to even more problems. Accusing people of crimes that they have not committed can lead them to do just that because it is what is expected of them. It is vital that we are educated on different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and cultures so that we can better understand other people. If each person took the time to learn the teachings of Islam, we would be quick to chastise someone for claiming that all Muslims are terrorists (Cherney & Murphy 2016). This is not to make light of the tragedies that families and loved ones of victims of terror crime shave suffered all over the world. Each person deserves justice for the pain they have suffered. However, this should be done within the scope of the law with proper investigations. With sufficient evidence pointing to the guilty party, they should be brought to book and sentenced accordingly.

In reality, human beings have different backgrounds, but each of us has the power to decide the kind of person we want to be. Killers and criminals from around the worlds can be from any religion, any gender, and any race. People should be judged on their individual actions rather than lumping all white people together and deciding that they all have low levels of intelligence. Sensitivity to other people is an integral part of fostering peace and love in society. If we made an effort to get to know each other without letting biases stand in the way, we would discover that w have so much in common. Young Muslim men from Syria deserve as much respect as a young Catholic woman from Switzerland for the same reason that they are both human.


Shay, S. (2017). The Globalization of Terror: the challenge of Al-Qaida and the response of the international community. Routledge.

Spencer, A. N. (2016). The hidden face of terrorism: an analysis of the women in Islamic State. Journal of Strategic Security, 9(3), 74-98.

Gould, E. D., & Klor, E. F. (2016). The Long‐run Effect of 9/11: Terrorism, Backlash, and the Assimilation of Muslim Immigrants in the West. The Economic Journal, 126(597), 2064-2114.

Calamur, K. (2016). Are Immigrants Prone to Crime and Terrorism?. The Atlantic.

Cherney, A., & Murphy, K. (2016). Being a ‘suspect community’in a post 9/11 world–The impact of the war on terror on Muslim communities in Australia. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 49(4), 480-496.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply