On September 11, 2001, the world for Muslims changed forever. After this tragic day, Muslims have all been branded as “terrorists”.
Terrorism is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” Many say this word without knowing the pain that comes along with it.
Who wants to be labeled as a violent extremist? I was 1 year old when the 9/11 attacks happened. Now, at 15, I decided to ask my parents what happened to them after 9/11.
I asked, “Have you faced any racism in Canada?”
Mom: “I haven’t faced any serious racism in Canada thankfully; our community is very diverse so everyone is respectful. I think I have only faced racism once. It was when I went to renew my passport at the Canadian embassy. The woman helping us was very rude and got upset at your father because of his poor English. I was upset and I felt like she thought we were not respectable because of the way we spoke.”
Dad: “Luckily when we moved to Canada we moved to a population that was mostly immigrants from Asia and the Middle East, so the racism wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Of course there’s the occasional dirty looks and rudeness but thankfully I’ve never been harmed
I asked,”How did you feel about what happened on 9/11?”
Mom: “After 9/11 I was devastated. I couldn’t believe the terrorists that carried out what happened were Muslims. I cried for days, praying for all the victims and families. I would see video clips on TV of people jumping from the towers moments before the tower collapsed and I would just wish I could have done something to save them. I wish I could have caught them and that Allah could have saved everyone in those buildings.”
Dad: “I didn’t feel good. What happened was wrong; what type of human being thinks dropping buildings and killing people is a good thing? People say that the attacks were in the name of Islam, but this is impossible. Islam teaches compassion, respect, and peace. What happened was so disgusting. The people who did this are not real Muslims. They are mental patients.”
“Is it different traveling after 9/11?”
Mom: “Traveling after 9/11 has changed a lot. I am 53 years old and I have done my fair share of traveling. Before, I felt like anyone else, I did not feel paranoid. I felt well respected. However, after 9/11 everything changed people on the plane were obviously more uncomfortable and rude around us. One passenger even asked a flight attendant to spray some air freshener because it smelled like curry. Security checks were more thorough than before. It made us feel ashamed for being who we were.
Dad: “When your mother and I went to England, a white female Visa officer gave us a very hard time. All we wanted to do was explore the country as a normal tourist, but she thought we were going to stay there as illegal immigrants. She made us wait hours. She asked us ‘How did you get this Visa?” and said things like ‘It’s impossible, look at you. You people should not travel. You can’t even afford this!’ Finally I became fed up and told them to book him a flight back. When the officer saw that we had the money to afford another ticket back she realized that we weren’t “poor illegals” like she thought we were, so she let us through.”
“In what ways has the Middle East changed since 9/11?”
Mom: “Before 9/11 Pakistan was a very safe country. You could travel city to city by car and you wouldn’t be held up at gun point. After 9/11 it got very unsafe. Terrorism moved into the country and now I can’t even go to a Shia mosque out of fear that it will get bombed.”
Dad: “After 9/11, there were so many wars and conflicts in the Middle East. Most of the countries there are nothing anymore and this is due to American intervention. Before 9/11, Pakistan was good, no bombs or anything. Pakistan helped America the most out of fear and as a result of that Pakistan had to pay the biggest price. So many terrorists came to Pakistan and destroyed its economy; over 65,000 civilians have died and they bomb schools, mosques, and buildings. How is our country supposed to recover from this when every school we build gets bombed and has shootings?”
“How do you feel about the treatment of Muslims and people of color after 9/11?’
Mom: “For my whole life we will all mourn for what happened on 9/11, but I am surprised how 14 years later, us Muslims are still suffering. The news talks about people assaulting Muslims and it breaks my heart. I just have one request if you’re reading this and are a non-Muslim please be kind to us I promise we want nothing but peace.”
Dad: “Everyone thought that all Muslims were terrorists and this is wrong. Who had most to lose after 9/11? Muslims. We lost our land, our safety, and some of us lost our lives. 3,000 people died on 9/11 and 2.5 million Muslims lost their lives after 9/11. Now this is wrong.”
I myself am very angry from what my parents have told me. I never knew until now what they faced. My parents did not even have it that bad. We live in Canada. Imagine the Muslims who live in America who are assaulted and even murdered for being Muslim. I have read so many sad stories on the #afterseptember11 tag and this is not humanity. Something needs to change. A small group of extremists should not fuel hate and anger toward 1.57 Muslims.