The Impact of 9/11 on the Ethics


The 9/11 attack had far-reaching effects on American people and the world. Many civilians died and America’s relationship with some Muslim countries became strained. After the incident, the then Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden released a statement detailing why they had attacked America. Among the reasons was America’s involvement in fighting Muslim jihadists in the Middle East (Aly, 2012). The main reaction by Americans was to wage war against Muslim extremists.

For example, they deployed soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, America’s reaction to the 9/11attack had severe effects on military ethics. Americans became less ethical because they developed a negative attitude towards Muslims. They began to consider Muslims as terrorists and violent people. Owing to the 9/11 attack, Americans became less ethical because they increased surveillance and monitoring of Muslim communities, heightened prejudice and discrimination, and perpetrated numerous hate crimes against Muslims (Carty, 2011).

Unethical behaviors by the military

U.S. military soldiers used force in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. The United Nations Security Council supported efforts by the U.S. to take action against perpetrators of the attack (Welsh, 2011). On the other hand, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) declared that the attack had also affected its members. The Bush administration declined help from NATO and the UN Security Council.

American military forces waged war on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The military used excessive force, which is a violation of war ethics (Welsh, 2011). It is unethical to use force especially on civilians during combat. The war in Iraq led to displacement and death of thousands of innocent civilians (Welsh, 2011). However, the U.S maintained that the UN Security Council authorized the attack on terror groups.

War on Afghanistan

It was unethical for Americans to wage war on Afghanistan as a way of attacking Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is a non-state group that does not have any connection to the government. Therefore, it was unethical to attack Afghanistan. America violated the nation’s territorial powers and sovereignty. Afghanistan was not responsible for the attack on Americans.

Therefore, it was immoral to kill innocent civilians who had no connection to the 9/11 attack. The actions of the military were against international law and war ethics. On the other hand, the war was characterized by severe violations of human rights (Welsh, 2011). Americans should have respected the sovereignty of Afghanistan and held talks with the government in order to develop a strategy to fight terror groups in the country.

Perpetration of hate crimes against Muslims

In the U.S., treatment of Muslims after the attack changed. Americans started viewing Muslims as terrorists and violent people (Aly, 2012). Hate crimes against Muslims increased. For example, a driver (Ahmed H. Sharif) was attacked by a student (Michael Enright) for being a Muslim. Fortunately, he survived the attack. Enright was arrested and charged. In addition, there were widespread anti-Islamic sentiments that resulted in attacks on Muslims (PewResearchCenter 2011).

For instance, Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot by Frank Roque who claimed that Sodhi belonged to the religion that had perpetrated the 9/11 attack (Carty, 2011). Many Muslims feel that efforts by the American government to fight terrorism are not sincere because they target them (Aly, 2012). Research has revealed that not all terrorists are Muslims. Despite this revelation, legislation to fight terrorism still victimizes the Muslim community. Anti-terrorism laws do not respect the constitutional rights of Muslim Americans as citizens of the U.S (Carty, 2011). The fact that Muslim Americans are recognized as American citizens means that they should enjoy all the constitutional rights that other Americans enjoy.

Increased surveillance and monitoring

After the attack, surveillance and monitoring of Muslim communities were heightened (PewResearchCenter 2011). The New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Criminal Investigation Agency (CIA) were accused of monitoring Muslim communities in many places including New York (Minchillo, 2011).

Security agencies placed under cover officers in Muslim neighborhoods in order to collect intelligence on possible terrorist attacks. The move was condemned because it encouraged profiling and promoted the notion that Muslims are terrorists and violent people (Minchillo, 2011). Hearings on Islamic radicalism in Muslim communities were also held. Government officials defended the hearings by stating that they were aimed at protecting Muslim communities in the country. These hearings were condemned because they targeted Muslims only (Minchillo, 2011).

On the other hand, animosity against Muslims was heightened. For example, a plan to build a mosque in Tennessee was blocked by individuals who argued that Islam was not a legitimate religion (Minchillo, 2011). This was a sign of hatred for the Muslim community. Today, American Muslims have not yet been fully accepted as members of the American community. Reconciliation has not yielded fruits because the American government has not withdrawn its troops from Muslim countries in the Middle East.

Increased discrimination and prejudice against Muslims

Discrimination and prejudice against Muslims increased after the attack. Muslims received unfair treatment because Americans held them responsible for the attack (PewResearchCenter 2011). Muslims argue that government policies on fighting terrorism single them out among other groups in the U.S. (Condon, 2011). Since 2007, The Muslim population has experienced increased surveillance owing to the supposition that all terrorists are Muslims.

Life has become more difficult because of the changed attitude among Americans, and the stringent anti-terrorism legislation that targets them (Condon, 2011). The notion that Muslims are terrorists is unfair and unethical. Prejudice against Muslims resulted in the fatal shooting of several Muslims. After the 9/11 incident, plans were initiated to build an Islamic center near the World Trade Centre as a way of reconciliation. However, many Americans opposed the plan.

For instance, a Florida cleric, Rev. Terry Jones burnt a Quran in protest (Minchillo, 2011). The notion that Muslims are terrorists has lingered among Americans for a long time. It was made stronger by the 9/11 attack. Americans have not yet fully embraced Muslims as members of their society. However, slight improvements have been reported. For example, hate crimes against Muslims reduced by 31 percent between 2002 and 2011 (Carty, 2011).


The 9/11 attack had far-reaching effects. The perpetrators of the attack argued that they were angered by America’s attempts to control Muslim countries. After the incident, Americans became less ethical as evident from the way they treated Muslims in the country. The military was deployed to Afghanistan where it used force to fight Al-Qaeda. This led to violation of human rights, deaths, and displacement of innocent civilians.

In the U.S, surveillance and monitoring of Muslim communities was heightened. In addition, hate crimes against Muslims increased. Americans discriminated them and blocked their attempts to build mosques in various cities. Many Americans have a negative attitude towards Muslims because they attribute the attack to them. This explains why they treat them unfairly. The American people have become less ethical in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack.


Aly, W. (2012). Misunderstanding 9/11. Web.

Carty, D. (2011). Mixed Bags for U.S Muslims since 9/11. Web.

Condon, S. (2011). Poll: 1 in 3 think Muslim Americans More Sympathetic to Terrorists Than Other Americans. Web.

Minchillo, J. (2011). NYPD Spying in Muslim Areas with CIA’s Help. Web.

PewResearchCenter: Muslim American- No signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism. (2011). Web.

Welsh, J. (2011). The Impact of 9/11 on the Ethics of Military Action. Web.

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