Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice

About the Book

In today’s political climate, where threats of mass deportations and a Muslim registry are making the headlines, the issues of civil rights, identity, and belonging explored inside Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice are perhaps more urgent than ever before.

A groundbreaking collection of oral histories, Patriot Acts tells the stories of men and women who were needlessly swept up in the War on Terror. In their own words, narrators recount personal experiences of the post-9/11 backlash that have deeply altered their lives and communities. The eighth book in the Voice of Witness series, Patriot Acts illuminates these experiences in a compelling collection of eighteen oral histories from men and women who have found themselves subject to a wide range of human and civil rights abuses—from rendition and torture, to workplace discrimination, bullying, FBI surveillance, and harassment.

Narrators Include:

ADAMA, a sixteen-year-old Muslim American who was abruptly seized from her home by the FBI on suspicion of being a suicide bomber. Even after her release from detention, she was forced to wear a tracking bracelet for the next three years.

TALAT, the mother of 9/11 first responder Salman Hamdani, who went missing after the attacks. As Talat and her husband searched desperately for their son, they were hounded by the media, who portrayed Salman as a possible terrorist in hiding.

RANA, a Sikh man whose brother Balbir was gunned down outside the gas station where he worked. Balbir’s death was the first reported hate murder after 9/11.

About the Editor & Foreword Author:

Alia Malek is an author and civil rights lawyer. She is a Senior Writer at Al Jazeera American, and her reportage has appeared in the New York TimesGrantaForeign Policy, and others.

Karen Korematsu co-founded the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education at the Asian Law Caucus (KI) in San Francisco in 2009, where she is currently Executive Director. Voice of Witness collaborated with the Korematsu Institute on an educator’s toolkit to accompany Patriots Acts. The lesson plans are available in our resource library.

Praise for Patriot Acts:

At a time when America is reflecting on years that have passed since September 11, 2001, Patriot Acts offers an opportunity to explore the dark side of our country’s response to the attacks. The strong voices contained in this collection offer first-hand insight into experiences of injustice often overlooked in post-9/11 media coverage.

Hamed Aleaziz for Mother Jones

Gripping. This is an important book that takes us beyond the featureless generalities of the post-9/11 drama to show us the particular experiences of individual human beings, each one living a life unlike any other.

Tamim Ansary, author of West of Kabul, East of New York

Journalist Alia Malek has deftly edited and transcribed a moving collection of true stories in Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice that may help us all ponder more deeply and clearly.

Susanne Pari for SFGate

Related Resources

View the Lesson Plans
The lessons use oral history to promote a nuanced understanding of those affected by the post-9/11 backlash in America.
Book Club Discussion Questions
Use these questions to encourage meaningful discussions about the book.
Narrative Excerpts
In the Guardian, read three excerpts of oral histories from the book.

Media Coverage