Today is September 11th 2015 – 14 years since the tragic attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center.
Today not only changed the lives of every American citizen – whether or not they were personally affected by losing a loved one – but it changed the life of every Muslim around the world.
We asked our MuslimGirl Army and friends to tell us how 9/11 has changed their lives.
These were their responses…
“I’ve lived in NY my entire life. But when I’m close to the Freedom Tower, it’s like I’m an outsider. 9/11 took away my home.” – Shannon, MG Society Editor
“My life has changed in that in every situation that mentions 9/11, I feel uncomfortable and unsafe. I feel like people stare at me, like they hate me, and like they need me to explain myself. Even in school, any mentioning of 9/11 has me tensing up defensively, and I hate that so much. It’s horrible because America is the only country I really know. I was born and raised here, and any sorrow she has is mine, too.” – Sara, MG Fashion Editor
“9/11 made me hyper aware of my identity… and I was only 6. That by itself forever changed me. But while growing up, and until this day, I tell myself to never let anyone make me feel inferior to them.” – Nihal, MG Managing Editor
“Since 9/11, my mom has called me every year to talk me out of leaving the house for fear that my hijab will incite violence.” – Salma, MG Managing Editor
“I have a distinct memory from 9/11. Few days after September 11, 2001, around 11AM, mom heard the garbage truck getting closer to our home so she rushed outside to get that last garbage bag out of the house. By the time she ran down the stairs and opened the front door, she noticed the garbage man was right in front of our house. Out of respect for the garbage man, mom handed the bag to him, instead of putting it down and having him lift it again. He grabbed the bag from her and waited for her to turn around to head back indoors, when she got inside he tossed the bag of garbage back at a Muslim American woman raising four children, who was simply going about her day…..and shouted out “GO BACK TO YOUR F***ING COUNTRY”…To the garbage man, this is her country, we’re proud Arab American Muslims.” – Mizar, That Muslim Woman’s Son
“An entire religion was hijacked by 19 terrorists and basically set of a domino effect to what is going on in the world today.” – Omar, Anesthesiologist
“Pre 9-11 I felt safe without any prejudice. After 9-11, I decided to take a risk because I was content with who I was and what my faith represents. So I wore the hijab, Islamic veil for women. Since I did that I felt and witnessed first hand the stares, the cruelty, the negative and positive reactions. However, it became more negative as time went on. It is unfortunate that I have and many others like myself have been lumped into the stereotypes that many have failed to distinguish between. Nonetheless, I am a very strong, confident Muslim woman that wouldn’t change any decision I made thus far. I am a flag bearer of Islam and I’m proud!” – Nazek, Wife and Mother
“Too many innocent Muslims have had to pay the price of a hand full of so-called Muslims actions on 9/11.” – Marion, Muslim-American Living in Lebanon
“Today is the 14th anniversary of 9/11. It is also the 14th anniversary of me not being white.” – Dean, Comedian
We also asked our non-Muslim friends if and how this day changed their views about Islam.
Here were their responses…
“I have come to understand and separate the evil acts of 19 people from the religion they claim to represent.” – Doug, a University Professor
“This is kind of funny now after being around Muslims and meeting so many new people, but since you guys have a special headdress (hijab) I always thought I had to talk to Muslim women as if they were nuns. I used to think that they were so religious that I couldn’t just be myself around them. What I have found, is they are no different than I am. They want to live their lives, be happy, spend time with family and friends. Don’t laugh at me…” – Chad, American Citizen
“When I went to morocco for six weeks in the early 80’s, I stayed with a devoutly Muslim family who lived the best parts of their religion on a daily, hourly basis and showed me how religion can truly keep people on a honorable path both in their own personal lives and in their interactions with strangers. When 9/ll happened, it made no change in my feelings about Muslims whatsoever, but rather, it cemented my counter-belief that religion can also be the utmost root of evil in the hands of those willing to use it as a tool and a weapon and a shield to hide their crimes. I refuse to be jerked around by fear-driven propaganda or brainwashing and will judge Muslims in exactly the same way I judge every other person: by their humanity, by their goodness of heart, by their compassion for the suffering of others. So far, the Muslims I’ve known have passed with flying colors on all counts.” – Janette, Entrepreneur and Social Awareness Activist
“My feelings have never changed. Some members of the media manipulate reality but if you see past it, you’re golden. Love is love.” – Andre, NYC Based Publicist
“My views on Islam and Muslims have changed radically over the last couple of years.
Right after 9/11 and for many years afterwards I bought into everything that I was told by the western media and through Western Christendom; Islam was evil, Islam is all about Terrace, Muslims were bloodthirsty crazy people, the religion was a religion of violence and oppression, and Muslims offered very little to civilized society throughout history.
Obviously I could not have been more wrong on all fronts….
… From Muslims, I have been shown both discipline and love, as well as an incredible depth of character. They also have wonderful integrity a deep reverence for things of holiness and basic goodness overall. Their devotion and loyalty is incredibly deep, they are almost all well-read, well-versed and educated, and they definitely have a wider and deeper grasp of how things work globally than we Americans do.” – Steven, Mexican-American (who has read the entire Quran)
“My views haven’t changed. I think I know more about it now, after 9/11. I think before, I knew Islam was a religion, a big religion, but never really read anything about it and never felt the need to. After, I did a little more research to just know for myself a little more about it and its history. I’m a history buff so, it was awesome to learn more. After 9/11 with people spewing anti-Muslim hatred, I figured I would find out for myself what was up and quickly realized, just like all racism, those remarks were based in ignorance.
Since we grew up together right next door, all the anti-Muslim sh*t never quite fit with my experience with my neighbors. We always knew you guys were Muslim, but, I guess because of who we are it never seemed to matter. You were just our neighbors. That’s it. I mean, really what else is there? I guess it also helps that you and your family are just awesome people. I will say that after 9/11 and all the anti-Muslim crap I heard I did think about you and your family. Even though we moved away and were not technically neighbors anymore…whenever I heard the BS I would think, how could they talk about my friends like that? It bothered me, and still bothers me.
I will stick up for you guys always. Not because of your faith, but because you are just good people, and our friends. And just like all Americans you have a right to worship as you choose.” – Dan, My Amazing Neighbor and Friend
“Before 9/11 I never thought Muslims were different. I still don’t.” – Brittany, 8th Grade Teacher
“I didn’t really have any views of Islam prior to 9/11 or when the event happened because I was so young. Being in 3rd grade I didn’t even really know about Islam yet at the time. As I got older and understood the event my views didn’t really change. I knew the difference between real Muslims and extremists. Before I left for Afghanistan I had conversations with Muslim friends about the Quran and what it teaches, so I guess you could say my view is that Islam is a peaceful religion. There are just radicals (assholes) that create their own interpretation of everything.” – Nick, United States Marine – deployed to Afghanistan in 2014
“Didn’t think much about it before, but now I have serious issues with the misuse and abuse of all organized religion for personal gain and power; usually by delusional, narcissistic men.” – Rachelle, a Palestinian Jew and Animal Lover
“I was too young to have any views or preconceived ideas about Islam before 9/11. After the attack it still took a little while. With how my mom raised me I was taught to not judge before knowing a person based on their religion or ideology. But I will say being exposed as much as I was and traveling as much made me more open minded and tolerant. Meeting you and becoming such great friends with you and getting to know your family just solidified everything. I love hearing things from your perspective because we don’t know what we don’t know. And sometimes that’s because it is filtered and spun a specific way.” – Katlyn, Proud Texan
“Education is everything! Extremists exist in all walks of life and we cannot let the actions of a few ruin it for so many.” – Melissa, 6th Grade History Teacher
“9/11 happened when I was 5 years old so easy enough to believe, I didn’t have a negative or critical view of anyone before this happened… I didn’t realize the impact that this had on Islam until I was older (around 10 maybe)… People had taken one thing that happened and applied it to an entire religion without even a second thought, I was shocked…I don’t judge or come to conclusions based on what I see. In my eyes, race and religion don’t put someone into a positive or negative light.” – Kierstin, Student at Colorado State University
So, how did 9/11 change your life?