Nineteen years ago today, one of the most formative events in modern American identity took place: 9/11, a tragedy which you no doubt are aware of. The impact of 9/11 on the collective consciousness of Americans was huge. Today is the nineteenth anniversary of 9/11, and it’s still being memorialized today. Besides the devastating toll of American lives lost, an illegal war was started in Iraq — who had nothing to do with 9/11 — where countless more civilian lives were lost in heinous war crimes.
Besides shaping the collective conscious of America, 9/11 also shaped the American public’s opinion regarding Islam and Muslims — and for the worst. Nineteen years later, anti-Muslim sentiment continues to be on the rise.
Muslim Girl writer Rokia Hassanein shared:
“At the time 9/11 happened, I was still in elementary school, but I understood enough to feel sadness, fear, and confusion. Confusion at why anyone who claimed to be “Muslim” would commit such a violent act that went against everything I knew about my faith. Confused about the beginning of the social disenfranchisement of Muslims in America. I think people who aren’t Muslim don’t understand that Muslim Americans experienced multiple traumas when 9/11 happened: the event itself and its ripple effects. We were demeaned, dehumanized, and forced to prove our so-called ‘patriotism’ every day to feel worthy of living in the United States. My existence become political. I carried with me the trauma of the national tragedy, feared of hate crimes happening, and experienced verbal abuse and insults. I lost childhood friends because their parents wouldn’t allow me in their house to play with them anymore. I heard people throw around ‘Iraqi’ and ‘Afghani’ (neither of which is my nationality) as insults when the U.S. invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. I watched the news every night, and cried for Iraqis and Afghans as I did for the 9/11 victims and their families. I still cry when I think of the hatred and violence of the tragedy, the violence of its aftermath, and the dangerous demonization of Muslim Americans that’s still embellished in rhetoric and in hate crimes statistics. As a I reflect on 9/11, I pray nobody ever misuses religion — or anything — to harm others ever again.”
We decided to hit the interwebs to see how 9/11 has impacted Muslims growing up in a post-9/11 era — and how it impacted some Muslims who weren’t even born at the time it happened. Check out some of the responses that we’ve seen on social media, or received from you on the @muslimgirl Instagram account.
@hqdada on Twitter wrote:
With 9/11 tomorrow, what was the shittiest thing a teacher said or let other students say in front of you? Mine was when I was a fifth grader the showed Afghanistan on a map and a classmate proudly said that “we’re gonna blow Haroun’s country up and turn it into the 51st state.”
@amani_marie on Twitter wrote:
I was in the 8th grade and a SUBSTITUTE teacher said “there are some people who hate our freedoms, and these people are terrorists, they’re all terrorists,” and then stared at me for what seemed like a full minute. He might as well have lit my hijab on fire.
@sanajafrani on Twitter wrote:
In my criminal justice class, my professor allowed someone to stand up and say we should go to Afghanistan and “kill them all.” I raised my hand to speak and she deliberately ignored me.
Even children were blamed. Check out what our friends on Instagram said.
My friends’ parents didn’t want their children playing with me anymore. I was 4 years old.
Was called a terrorist and [that I was from] a shitty family [and] religion as an 8 year old. An 8 year old!
Watched a live-action version in 7th grade. Cried in the bathroom during school.
And while many remember the exact location they were as a young child, others hear the stories about what their parents had endured during the time.
@_hibaharoon writes the story of her mother:
My mom was a student in Virginia at the time 9/11 occurred. She got horribly bullied, and once they even snatched her hijab off [her head.] Eventually things got so bad my grandparents thought it wasn’t safe for her to stay in the U.S. anymore. They sent her and my grandmother back to Pakistan.
Others remember how they felt in the aftermath:
@theartofghostudios remembers the experience:
Strange looks as you walked down American streets.
@ruesdouble how she was looked at:
As a convert Muslim, I was seen as a traitor by non Muslims, and I’ve experienced this post 9/11.
It made me face my identity as an “other.”
Every time the word terrorist came up all eyes were on me.
@mahiraq shared how she feels because of how the world changed regarding security:
Major anxiety every time I go through airport security.
While the world is definitely different, for many, this is the only world they know. We hope for a day when Muslims don’t feel the need to defend their faith and themselves. We hope for a day that we aren’t questioned of our sincerity. We hope for a day when we can mourn in peace – for we, too, lost hope on September 11, 2001. We continue to grieve for those lives lost, and we pray for healing as a nation. Amin.
How has 9/11 impacted you? Hit us up on our Instagram and let us know, or drop a comment below.