In New York's Little Syria, a Fight to Preserve the Past

tags: New York, Immigrant History



...The final physical remnants of this vital but oft-forgotten neighbourhood – and the role of Arab-Americans in the country’s formative history – however, could soon all but disappear.

Most recently, the historians and activists who have struggled to preserve the few remaining buildings on Washington Street in lower Manhattan, only blocks from the World Trade Centre site, have fought to push the September 11 Memorial Museum to include the area’s diverse history in its collection.

The museum, which has received tens of millions of tax dollars, is scheduled to open in April as part of the larger September 11 memorial site. Part of its mandate is to document the history of the area that surrounded the twin towers, but so far museum executives have refused to include Little Syria’s history or display any of its artefacts.

One of the dominant legacies of the September 11 attacks has been the rise of Islamophobia in the US as well as discriminatory, and many critics say unconstitutional, counterterrorism and surveillance practices that target whole Muslim and Arab communities without any specific suspicions.

By excluding Little Syria from its exhibition the museum is missing an opportunity to address this legacy by placing Arabs and Muslims at the heart of the great American narrative, as insiders, not hostile foreigners...




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