September 11th, 2001.
The events of that day affected the daily lives of not just those in the US but also of countless people all over the world, in both subtle & not so subtle ways.
10 years later, the repercussions are still being felt but in all this time no voice has been given to the average moderate Muslim.
What follows is a transcript from an interview with a friend of mine, who has a Muslim background, on this broad topic of 9/11.
It was held on Saturday, June 11th, 2011.
In the 10 years since the events of 9/11, other terror attacks have been covered by the 24-hour news media but also through the internet & its social media like Twitter, Facebook & YouTube.
We’ve also seen politicians put the topic of Islam on their agenda by for example burqa banning or claiming President Obama is a Muslim in such a manner that it becomes an accusation, like it’s a bad thing.
But even if you don’t watch the news, stay off-line or are a-political, it’s become hard to ignore or even escape all of this because even the entertainment industry has apparently embraced Muslim terror with things like certain seasons of the TV series “24”, WWE wrestler “Muhammad Hassan” & even comicbook writer/artist Frank Miller wanting to create a Batman Vs Al-Qaeda graphic novel called “Holy Terror, Batman !”.
In this past decade, a lot of young Muslims have stated that they’ve started indentifying more strongly with their religion since 9/11 than before because of this always present situation… almost a stigma of sorts.
As you go about your life, has society through the media, its politics & entertainment “forced” you to become more self-aware of your own background ? Has there been a change on some level in your thinking, how you see yourself with this level of attention ?
Friend: …weeelllll, I guess it’s made me a bit more hostile, I think. I just keep it in the back of my mind & the more I think about it, the more stupid humanity is in my opinion.
X-Mer: Sick people ?
Friend: Sick people. I can’t really blame them but I don’t know, it really strikes me as ignorant to just accept how it is because it’s “easier”.
I guess it becomes even more easy when you’re not part of the group that’s being singled out, so…
X-Mer: …you can ignore it ?
Friend: Well, I’m not really sure if that’s true because there’s a lot of media that’s making people afraid…
X-Mer: …fearmongering ?
Friend: Yeah, fearmongering & hatemongering. Like I said, in history there’s been lots of periods I think… perhaps it’s been non-stop, that fearmongering’s been going on for centuries. With all the knowledge we have at our disposal, I would think people would get some insight into that.
Still, when you experience it, like I said, I feel more hostile now than I did before but I always kept “it’s going to pass at a certain point, it’s just a period” in the back of my mind. I happen to be part of the group that’s being singled out now & who knows who…
X-Mer: Do you think it will pass anytime soon ?
Friend: Like I said, in my experience it is passing because now you have the Arabian Spring, so you know, people… they see the change… a lot of people are saying: “well, it’s a good thing what’s happening”.
X-Mer: You think they mean that or is it just the polite thing to say ?
Friend: I think they’re genuine.
X-Mer: With these examples like “24” or the news media, how do you think Muslims are being portrayed ? Are they being put in a bad light or is it just a reflection of what’s really going on & so it’s “ok” ?
Friend: Well, I did enjoy “24” for the most part & actually was turned away not because of storylines against Muslims but because they were repeating themselves. It was getting boring.
X-Mer: “Look ! CTU is being attacked… for the 88th time ! Oh no !”
Friend: “Oh no ! That never happened before, what are we going to do ?”
But uh… I think I was able to create some distance from it in the sense of “it’s only entertainment”. When you talk about media like television on the 1 hand you have “24” & on the other hand you have “South Park”.
They can be very rude & do crude stuff like that. But the thing about South Park is that the storytellers always show both sides of the tale & they do it very well.
But you know a lot of people, that’s also interesting, a lot of people just see the toilet humour & that kind of puts the attention away from the good storytelling.
X-Mer: [From] what’s really going on ?
Friend: What’s really going on. Those guys are really good storytellers & I think… 1 of the things, I didn’t see it but uh… you had the movie “World Police” & ever since that movie whenever I think of America, I think of world police.
& in a way I think it [world policing] is a good thing & also a bad thing.
X-Mer: Because ?
Friend: Well, it depends on how you present it. Because you had the guy in charge before & then it was very much “us against them” & now we have a guy who says: “we can’t do it alone, we have to work together”.
There are always going to be people against that & saying: “he says that but he doesn’t mean it !”. But I think it’s very important in how you present yourself as… I mean if you’re going to be world police do it in a way that makes people accept you.
X-Mer: Like Obama ?
Friend: Like Obama !
I mean Obama held that speech in Egypt, I can’t imagine Bush would have been… [LOL]
X-Mer: He would’ve been dancing !
Friend: & then the shoes would’ve been flying…
X-Mer: Dodging them left & right ?
Friend: Right, because he presents himself like: “we’re America & we’ll tell you what’s good for you !” & Obama is more like: “we’re the greatest nation in the world, so we have a commitment towards others & we have to help them.”
X-Mer: Sooo, let me see here… just to get back to this point. You said like how people were viewing you, do you think then that society is treating you like a person who happens to be Muslim or a Muslim who happens to be person ? What do you think they see first ?
Friend: It depends on the person you meet & it’s going to be different every time. & it says a lot about the person themselves. & some people are just very sensitive towards what the majority does & that’s kinda disappointing to me. They just follow along & as long as they’re not the ones being excluded, it’s “ok”.
That’s it for part 4 but please check back tomorrow for part 5 of the interview, where I ask my friend about discussing Islamic extremism in the household.