9/11… 20 Years Later

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, not only were Americans devastated, hate rose significantly


Aminah Syed and Lucy Call

When the World Trade Towers went down on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States changed forever. American lifestyles changed, liberty has never recovered.

Each year Americans remember the date and hear the horrifying details, over and over: the number of deaths, the destruction to New York, and how America took action to fight terrorism.

The attacks impacted everyone, and that days’ impact bled into the post-9/11 generation. A new generation of Middle Eastern, South Asian, Persian, and Muslim children and adults have been on the receiving end of xenophobia and racism for over 20 years.

“People come for opportunities. They come for a chance to live a better life,” an anonymous female senior said. “However, immigrants always live with the fear of new rules being passed that send them back or people that create an uncomfortable environment.”

The consequence of ignorance has led to multiple hate crimes and acts of domestic terrorism throughout the United States, and it continues to increase.

According to the FBI, the number of hate crimes towards Muslims rose 1617% in response to the attacks in 2001. Hate crimes such as burning mosques or destroying religious property have stormed America.

“I feel like here, [for Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants] it’s perfect for job opportunities and economic [reasons]. But, I feel politically, it’s kind of a dangerous place.” said senior Nabila Qureshi.

The wave of Islamophobia across the United States spread like wildfire. Following the attacks, many people aimed their hurt and anger towards Muslims or anyone perceived as Muslim or associated with Islam, into hate crimes.

Senior Isra Mounla began wearing her hijab when she was 13-years-old. Her family immigrated to the United States in 2003, a few years after tensions began to increase.

“My dad works as a doctor,” said Mounla, “and he’s had people say they don’t want his services because he’s Muslim.”

At school, the generational bias continues when discussions of terrorism, the attacks, or any mention of the conflicts ongoing in the Middle East are brought up. This bias fosters awkward tension between peers and creates a breeding ground for harassment inside and outside the classroom environment.

“Every time in class, if someone talks about 9/11, I have to look on the ground because I cannot make eye contact with every single person in the room looking at me,” Qureshi said.” This started in middle school. I feel like everyone just stared at me when anyone talked about 9/11.”

While Islamaphobia is the root cause, that did not exclude non-Muslim individuals from the Middle East and South-Southeast Asia from hate and discrimination. When the mass shooting in a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis occurred in July, members of the Sikh community believed that it was a racially motivated crime, despite what police reports that discounted racial motivations.

“Learning that people went to the extent of taking others’ lives made me so upset and to this day, remembering the event makes me feel the same,” Qureshi said. “You don’t have to be a victim [of the attacks] to feel the pain.”

The losses caused by the infamous 9/11 tragedy affected all Americans and caused all of us pain. But the hardships some Americans face, cannot be excused.  99.9% of people, especially high school students, had no part in the attacks and it is hurtful to associate them with those who committed the act just because of a small token of a shared identity.

“There are always going to be bad eggs, but there’s nothing inherently violent about Islam; I wish that everyone could acknowledge that,” said Mounla. “I just expect to be treated with the same respect as anyone else.”