The Backlash of 9/11 on Muslims in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Isam Shihada


This paper examines how Muslims are harshly treated after the backlash of 9/11 in Mohsin Hamid’s novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist and how they become victims and legitimate targets of hate crimes, negative media stereotypes, physical beatings, disappearance, racial profiling, interrogations at American airports, and detentions in secret places. It addresses how such treatment sheds light on the questions of Muslim integration in American society, citizenship, multiculturalism, identity, alienation, belonging, and national affiliation. It also disrupts the dominant American official discourse, which links Islam with terror and portrays Muslims as potential terrorists and a threat to America and the values of Western civilization. I also argue that Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist offers a counter-literary response not only to the American public rhetoric but also to the dominant literary discourses that prevailed after 9/11, inflamed the American sentiments, and consolidated stereotypes against Islam and Muslims. The study concludes that Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist renders a stark warning message, through its character (Changez) that the harsh treatment of Muslims, American domineering policies, and the blind War on Terror will force many ordinary Muslims to relinquish the American Dream, like Changez, and turn into radicals. The study also reveals that the American reaction toward Muslims after the tragic attacks on 9/11 has been blind, indiscriminate, and disproportionate to such an extent that the very concept of multiculturalism on which the American society is based is threatened. The American society will be prone to internal fissures and disintegration if they fail to accept the “Other” and fail to stop blaming all Muslims for a few isolated tragic incidents that they are not actually responsible for. Finally, the research concludes that the mistreatment of Muslims, the promotion of Islamophobia, and the War on Terror that followed 9/11 may lead to the exclusion and alienation of Muslims in America, the disintegration of the American multicultural society, and the rise of Islamic radical groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.



Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Muslims, post-9/11 fiction, War on Terror

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