CSU Sociology Professor Examines Post-9/11 Discrimination Against Muslim Americans in New Book

Note to Reporters: Lori Peek will give a presentation on “Behind the Backlash,” followed by a Q&A and book signing, at 6 p.m. Jan. 21 at Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St. in Fort Collins.

Lori Peek, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Colorado State University, explores the effects of the 9/11 attacks on the Muslim American community in her new book, “Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans After 9/11.”

Peek, who is an expert on the social impacts of disaster, traveled to New York City just weeks after the terrorist attacks. She spent the following two years interviewing and observing 140 young Muslim American men and women.

“Behind the Backlash” vividly captures the shock and sadness that Muslims felt after 9/11 as well as the fear that many Muslims experienced as a wave of backlash violence swept across the United States.

“When I began this research,” Peek said, “some of the young women in the study had just left their homes for the first time. Some had stayed behind closed doors for two or three weeks because they were scared that they would be harassed if they went back to school or work.”

The fear that Muslims expressed soon after 9/11 was not unfounded. The FBI documented a 1,600 percent increase in hate crime in the months following 9/11. Muslims also experienced spikes in employment discrimination, harassment in schools and profiling in public places.

“I wrote this book in part to document both the visible as well as the more invisible forms of suffering that Muslims endured after 9/11,” Peek said. “But it is important to remember that the pain is only part of their story. Muslims exhibited incredible strength and solidarity after 9/11 as members of their community came together to try to reassert and reclaim their faith.”

Peek’s book is already receiving much praise from colleagues.

“Behind the Backlash is a compelling, perceptive and sensitively drawn portrayal of what happened to Muslim-Americans, among the most loyal of national groups, when the dark shadow known as 9/11 passed over our land,” wrote Kai Erikson, professor emeritus of sociology and American studies at Yale University.

Peek also is co-director of the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University. She has been involved in disaster research for more than a decade and has published in the areas of risk and social vulnerability.

“Behind the Backlash” is available at local bookstores, online retailers and directly from Temple University Press/Chicago Distribution Services.