10th Anniversary of 9/11 Series: I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | X | XI | XII | XIII | XIV | XV |
I was twelve the year the disaster occurred. Until then, I had lived in a happy-go-lucky little bubble, safely cushioned from the events of the world until September 11, 2001 brought the events of the world to my doorstep.
I had never been conscious of any difference between me, a young Muslim girl, and my neighbors of all nationalities and faiths. But after that day, suddenly people’s attitudes towards my family and me shifted. Some of the neighborhood kids were no longer allowed to come out and play with us. We began getting glares in the stores we had shopped at for years.
I did not understand why people were mad at my family and me for an event I had no control over and for which I could not possibly be held responsible.
Of the events of 9/11 and their aftermath, what left the deepest impression upon me was the scale of the disaster’s effect on the lives of thousands of people that had no connection to it other than being in the country in which it occurred.
Common civilians became suddenly violent and abusive towards the Muslims in their neighborhoods. The government became suspicious of anyone who looked even remotely Arab. Police were able to arrest anyone without a warrant and take them away without notifying their families. Muslims were suddenly subpar citizens whose rights were being taken away.
One encounter in particular stands out in my mind. When I moved to Egypt, I enrolled in an American high school there where I met a girl who had recently moved to Egypt from the U.S. and transferred to our school. When I asked her why her family decided to move, she said she had faced severe abuse in her hometown of Detroit for being Muslim.
Her school friends all turned on her and she was spat at and threatened in the streets. Her family had moved to Egypt to escape any further harm. Like me, she was yet another of hundreds of Muslims who had become refugees fleeing the anti-Muslim hatred that followed 9/11.
We were two U.S. citizens forced to seek asylum in a third world country because our own country would not give us even the most rudimentary protection.
September 11, 2001 was a tragic day that should be commemorated by remembrance and prayers for the innocent people that lost their lives that day and for their grieving families. It is a tragedy shared by families of all nationalities and all faiths and it should never be associated in anyone’s mind with violence and hate-mongering.
Now that I am back in the U.S. and have seen the damage done to our country by the ignorance and hatred that succeeded the 9/11 attacks, the question I ask is this: Look at the chaos and misery this country has fallen into- if the victims of 9/11 could see us now, do you think this hate and fear-filled world is what they would want us to construct in their honor?
Those who spread feelings of hatred in the name of honoring the dead of 9/11 are doing nothing more than sullying their precious memories.
You ask a great question and I hope people learn from your experience and analysis to discontinue such a hateful mentality.
JazaakyAllahu Khairan for sharing. Your experiences remind me of one of the our family friends. A couple of years ago, she began to wear hijab but because of the hate and verbal abuse she experienced, she stopped wearing it.
May Allah (SWT) give strength and courage to our sisters in Islam who are currently the flag-bearers of this beautiful religion. Ameen.
Ameen. Thank you so much for sharing!
Asalaamu alykum sister,
Jazak Allahu kheiran for sharing your experience with us. You are absolutely right, those who fill their hearts with hatred towards Muslims because of September 11th, are greatly misguided and act in utter ignorance. Even ten years later, it is still difficult for us…i still get those glares/awkward stares when I walk into a store with hijab. May Allah tala give us the strength to continue educating the public about the real Islam(and dispelling Islamophobia) with beautiful patience. Bi’iznillah, we can replace hatred for peace.
I think it’s really crazy seeing the different reactions of people in different areas of the United States- because they’re all different, some harsher than others. This definitely takes a toll on the younger generation who are confused as to why we are connected with the attacks. Great article, thanks for sharing.
“It is a tragedy shared by families of all nationalities and all faiths and it should never be associated in anyone’s mind with violence and hate-mongering.”
“sigh” Life as it is, and life as we desire it to become. Thanks for sharing the dream Noora.
Wonderful piece Noora. I was 10 years old when 9/11 happened and I definitely felt the effects of it immediately. The same day at school the principal announced that Arab terrorists killed Americans, and suddenly I felt everyone’s eyes turn on me-especially since I wore hijab at the time. I remember this eerie silence that spread through my neighborhood too. All the kids were always in the streets, and I remember being really good friends with all of them, even the children a few blocks away, but after 9/11 the doors closed and the American flags went up. No one was allowed to to come out and play–especially not with my siblings and me. I think the most difficult part was feeling like I wasn’t fully human anymore. The alienation and racism was terrible, especially when it came from my teachers and peers. But despite all this, my family and I put ourselves out there. We’d always make sweets and take fruit baskets to our neighbors and take the opportunity to tell them about who we are. I always spoke up in class and rectified whatever was wrongly said against Muslims. It definitely helped, and a lot of our neighbors would actually smile and wave when the walked by. The anger and fear is going to be there, and our job is to work to project the real image of Islam and Muslims to alleviate those emotions. After all, people fear what they don’t know, and in this case, it’s who they dont’ know.