American Muslims reflect about 9/11’s effect on Islam

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A day to remember

Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, the American Muslim community is still working to show support for its country and end negative stereotypes that arose from the tragedy.

Business senior and president of the Muslim Students Association Safa Elshanshory said the events of 9/11 sparked heated rhetoric from both sides of the controversy, but ultimately led to healthy discussion.

“I don’t think there is ever going to be closure from any aspect,” Elshanshory said. “A lot of words have been let out of the box and a lot of fear was uncovered because of the events, but this can all be seen as a positive direction towards understanding.”

Elshanshory said it was necessary to correct the ideas many Americans held about the true, peaceful ways of Muslims in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, but she does not believe as many people hold misconceptions as immediately after 9/11.

“Some people think we have to really go out of our way to show that we are a good and peaceful people,” Elshanshory said. She said the day to day lives Muslims live already reflects the peacefulness of their religion and Muslims do not need to make greater efforts than that.

Elshanshory said she felt the heated rhetoric calm down toward the middle of the decade, but she encountered negativity similar to 2001 when public debate began about the construction of a Muslim community center near ground zero.

“Again politicians from the highest level began openly attacking the religion because Muslims wanted to build the Park 51 mosque,” Elshanshory said. “I felt a little déjà vu.”

Kristen Brustad, chair of the department of Middle Eastern Studies, said the attacks of 9/11 brought out the best and the worst in Americans. She said the attacks inspired heartfelt outreach toward Muslims but also some uneducated outrage toward the Muslim community.

Brustad said the Middle Eastern Studies department has seen an increase of students pursuing Muslim-related courses since 9/11.

“This is one of the few good things that came out of 9/11,” Brustad said. “People have become more globally aware. Students have been more interested in the language study and the historic culture of the region.”

Nadia Ahmad, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Round Rock, said she felt sorrow that many Americans were introduced to Islam in such a horrible way after 9/11.

Ahmad said she believes a majority of the negative image of Islam has cleared out in the 10 years since 9/11, especially after the death of Osama bin Laden.

“All people think justice has now been served since this mass murderer has been taken out,” Ahmad said. “In a way 9/11 has been avenged now.”

Ahmad said it took much outreach on behalf of the Muslim community over the past 10 years to clear Islam’s name in America. She said the Muslim community in the U.S. has been dedicated to get active in the community and spread good words.

“We as Muslims had to defend the honor of Islam and convey this message that condemns any bloodshed, any terrorism and values the sanctity of life,” Ahmad said.

Printed on September 9, 2011 as: Overcoming religious stereotypes years later