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Honest, captivating responses to “Muslims of Reddit, how much did your life change after 9/11?”

Reuters/Lori Shepler
Prayer services in downtown LA.
By Thu-Huong Ha
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The world looks very different today than it did 14 years ago. After the attacks on New York and Washington, DC, on Sept. 11, 2001, the US entered wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Osama bin Laden was eventually killed, and today a new kind of terrorism threatens the globe.

But the change hasn’t just been geopolitical. For millions of Muslims living in the US and elsewhere, it has also been personal. The legacy of 9/11 is also one of harassment and hate crimes, as well as everyday misunderstandings and suspicion.

More than half of Muslim-Americans in a 2011 Pew Research Center survey said that life was harder after 9/11, with 28% saying others had acted suspiciously toward them and 22% saying they had been called offensive names. Meanwhile, 40% of Americans said they believed that Islam was more likely to encourage violence than other religions. (Only 21% of Muslim-Americans thought so.)

Today, ignorance and misinformation still abound.

Twitter/‏@AthertonKD

So what stories do Muslim-Americans growing up in the wake of 9/11 have to tell? Reddit user El-Aaiun posed the question to the community’s Muslim members two weeks ago. Many of the posts are heartbreaking, with experiences ranging from isolation to playground bullying to job losses. One Redditor claiming to be the friend of the family weighed in to discuss the fatal shooting of the Sikh Indian Balbir Singh Sodhi, four days after Sept. 11.

Here are some of the more compelling answers from the thread, which includes Redditors posting from the UK and Australia, and some non-Muslims showing support. Users’ locations are noted where included.

“My uncle lost his job as a jet pilot. My white neighborhood friends stopped talking to me, and their parents were scared of my mom for wearing the hijab… I was too young to realize why my friends didn’t want me at their house, or why my friend’s dad didn’t let me near his son.”

—HeyImDoc (Southern California)

“Day of my mom was taking me home from school and as we were getting out of the car a lady stopped next to us, got out of her car, said ‘you are ruining our country,’ spit in my mom’s direction and left.”

—benevolinsolence

“My name was Osama. Had to change it cause people would no longer treat me the same way. I was six at the time.”

—azdarksonal

“I was in the 6th grade when it happened. One of my teachers told me that me and my ‘kind’ didn’t deserve to be in this country (even though I was born here). No one in our neighborhood would talk to us, and someone slammed into my mother’s car. Another teacher later told me that I didn’t deserve the quality education that I was getting.”

—90akram (Houston, Texas)

“My dad worked at a very large airport as head supervisor of security for 10 years. He’s Muslim, from Morocco and is semi-dark skinned. Many of the people he managed were also from African countries and were Muslim. A few days after 9/11, he was fired. No explanation… He was called racial slurs, spit at, threatened, called a “terrorist”, a sand n*****, etc. So in addition to his depression, he developed social anxiety and PTSD. He became very violent toward my mom and I and it was the worst time of our lives. It really didn’t really start getting better for him (or us) until after the 10th anniversary.”

queerthemighty

“…We were broke because my dad was convinced that America would round up all Muslims and go all concentration camp on us so he moved all our money to the country we came from: Bangladesh. He didn’t just move our savings to Bangladesh, he kept going further. We were spending the bare minimum and he would send most of his paychecks back to Bangladesh… The thing about Bangladesh is that you can legally take money into Bangladesh, but bringing money out of Bangladesh is illegal. Of course, America never went concentration camp on our asses and now there’s a few hundred thousand US dollars sitting in a Bengali bank account that we can’t do much with.”

—tansrn (Brooklyn, New York)

“I do remember my dad putting up an American flag in our window in the days following 9/11. When I asked him why he was doing that, he looked at me hard and said ‘this is especially important now.'”

—m0ms-spaghetti (New York, New York)

“It completely changed who I was, as I started down a strange journey that ended up with me losing my faith. I wasn’t even that devout, nor were my family, it’s just that Islam was a big part of my identity… I remembered being so shocked when I found out it was Muslims that had done it, as Islam stood for peace.”

—throwawayapostacy (Birmingham, UK)

“There was a special assembly before roll call… The principal described the tragedy, made us remember the victims, told us what counseling was available, all the usual bullshit. Then he went on a full speech about how this has nothing to do with Muslims and started crying because he knew they were gonna cop it and how we should stand up for our Muslim friends and treat them no differently.”

—flat_tyre (Sydney, Australia)

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