do better.

Being that this past Saturday was the 20th anniversary of 9/11, many people were more focused on the wrong thing. Instead of mourning the loss of so many innocent lives of the people in the towers, the planes, the Pentagon, and the flight that crashed in the field in Pennsylvania, they were more set on harassing others. 

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, my dad got up to go work at the airport. He got to work and did whatever he had to do. He never expected that in only 3 hours, he would watch the towers go down in NYC and have to start scrabbling around the airport to stop the planes from taking off and closing off the runways. My mom watched the towers go down live while sitting in my aunt’s hospital room because she had cancer.

In the fallout of the attack, I unfortunatly learned over the years that I was bound to be discriminated against, being born into a Muslim family of immigrants. Growing up and going to public school, I would always get asked the most out-of-pocket questions you’ve ever heard of.

  A few examples are: 

  • How many Gods do you believe in? (and when I said we all believed in the same God, they’d laugh)
  • Shouldn’t you be wearing those headscarf things? 
  • What’s your version of heaven and hell? 
  • Are your parents here legally? 
  • Isn’t the Middle East just one big country?

The comments they made were worse. For example: 

  • My pastor said you’re going to hell. 
  • I heard on the news that people who are Muslim are terrorists. 
  • My parents don’t want me to be friends with you. 

I think the one that really got me was when someone asked me, in the same breath, if I knew anyone who hijacked the planes, and if I was happy that they hit the towers and supported the terrorists. I think I was only 8 or 9 at the time and unable to process that I was being profiled.

It was really confusing for a little girl who didn’t understand why people hated her for something she didn’t control and wasn’t ashamed of. I was proud to be Muslim because it was a part of me, even though my parents and I weren’t and aren’t religious. It wasn’t something important in our house. We didn’t think being committed to a religion was important as long as you just try to be a good person. We believed in our original Zoroastrian roots which are “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds”. You can’t really explain stuff like this to people ignorant enough to ask those types of questions. I just stopped telling people I was from the middle east and that I was Muslim. 

 I thought by doing this, all the passive-aggressive torment would stop. It didn’t completely stop, but it did die down. 

On Saturday, I got a number of messages from a bunch of people saying things like “Happy 9/11!” and just sick things like that. Some even went to the extent of drawing the planes hitting the towers. It’s sick. It’s demented. It’s embarrassing. It’s 2021 and people still act like this. I just opened the messages and moved on with my day. I commented under posts “Never Forget” because you should never forget events like this that affect the country you’re from. Just because you’re the same religion as the people who did that horrific act, doesn’t mean you’re happy about it. That would be just sick.   But stuff like this sits with people. I didn’t even know who these people were, and I don’t know how they knew I was Muslim, but that wasn’t important to me. The thing that is important to me is that people learn to dissociate any Muslim they know from 9/11. We aren’t all the same, and people need to realize that  the media is to blame for this as well. I always hear the news say ‘Islamic Terrorists’, but never specify what country the terrorists are from. This was also seen in the Muslim Ban that former President Trump passed. He banned countries that weren’t involved with 9/11 or any terrorist attacks but still had relations with countries where the people who hijacked the planes were from. 

  I don’t want to sound like I’m saying this to ‘take the spotlight’. That’s the opposite of what I’m doing. I want to show that you shouldn’t blame people for stuff like this because of stupid sterotypes and ignorance. They don’t know the first thing about Islam or our cultures. The terrorists aren’t Muslims in my opinoin for their actions run counter to the faith. Islam is supposed to be about peace. What those sick people do makes them evil and against everything Islam is supposed to be. They’re sinners. 

The bottom line is that people need to be educated about things they don’t understand before they make assumptions and insult people. It’s 2021 people. Do better.

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