If anything, the past twenty years revealed that surveillance – the enterprise of monitoring people on account of their ethnic or spiritual identity – is the touchstone of structural Islamophobia. The system whereby the state conflates Muslim identity with “terror suspects” and justifies strident measures of policing that violate foundational constitutional safeguards.
During the early 2000s, the Muslim community in Southern California was thriving. While the faith group as a whole was dealing with a deluge of Islamophobic attacks post 9/11, the Muslim community in the suburbs of Los Angeles seemed to be expanding every day.
Soon after the doors of the Islamic Centre of Irvine opened in 2004, it was regularly welcoming around a thousand people for Friday prayers.
“I don’t use this word sanctuary lightly. It was exactly that, a sanctuary. It was literally a place where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the day to day. You can get away from the media onslaught on Muslims post-9/11 and you can come to a location where you can feel proud and at peace with being Muslim,” Ali Uddin Malik, a member of the community, told Middle East Eye.