On September 11, 2001 a terrorist group hijacked 4 passenger jets and conducted a series of 4 co-ordinated suicide attacks on America. Two planes were crashed into the Twin Towers, a third plane was intentionally crashed into the Pentagon and the fourth plane crashed in an open field. Nearly 3000 people died. An Islamist group claimed the responsibility and their leader was shot dead in an American combat in Pakistan after almost 10 years. The world celebrated this incident as a victory over terrorism. I was also one of them.
Today as we reckon a decade of 9/11, I am posed with a question, how have I changed after 9/11? Was only America affected, or did it leave marks of fear on each one of us? That incident led to continuously scrutinizing the activities of a particular religion and section of people. U fit the description… is a common term used when officers at the airport move someone who is brown or has a muslim name, for frisking. I have a lot of Muslim friends, and yes I am very proud of the fact that they are my friends. I grew up with some and some I met in the course of my life. None of them support the actions being done in the name of religion. But they are subjected to so much humiliation and torture because of their names now. It has become so difficult to get easy things like a house on rent or even freely travel.
With all these thoughts I think to myself, have I changed post 9/11? Yes I have. I am not proud of this incident at all, it is something which will always put me to shame and will also question my friendships with my Muslim friends. The fact that I am writing this incident is also an apology to all my wonderful Muslim friends. Few days before this incident I had read a news article which said that some terrorists groups were looking to recruit white muslims as a part of their strategy to spread terror. This particular day I was in a coffee shop by myself, when this lady sitting next to me started enquiring about a particular jewellery I was wearing. I was more than happy to explain to her what it was, knowing that she was not from India. I guessed that obviously from her colour. We then exchanged our phone numbers and when I asked her name, it was clear she was a Muslim from Syria.
She tried to call me couple of times after that to meet up, but everytime I refused at some pretext or other. My husband found it very strange, especially knowing how friendly a person I am and would jump at an opportunity to make new friends. What I explained to him, is even today unbelievable to me….she is a white muslim, I don’t want to get involved into any problem. What if she is associated in some way with some group? We are not even in our own country. I don’t want to cause problems to us. This is a statement which will continue to haunt me for all my life, for judging a person who was just looking forward to be friends with me. I tried calling her after that but she was not reachable, maybe she had changed her number.
I was not born with this fear. I am a common person who always believed in friendship. Media is all the time full of stories of people who have unknowingly fallen into some trouble. Should I be termed wrong for being careful? If no, then where does this put my friendship with so many of my Muslim friends? I love them, I would fight furiously if they are mistreated because of their religion, but does it justify what I did? I am ashamed of what I did and my heart knows how many times I must have apologized, but am I to be blamed? Has 9/11 changed me?