What I did after 9/11

After 9/11 Islamophobia was in full flourish. People were getting beat-up. Many people started distancing themselves from Islam, Sikhism or anything else that might make them a target.

I was taking a break from school, but decided to visit the weekend after 9/11. I wanted to be with people. My friends and I were close with the local Muslim community in Urbana, so we volunteered to patrol the local masjid (mosque) at night. We didn’t want some frat kids vandalizing a community center and leave families feeling unsafe.

The people at the masjid made coffee for us. It was a cool night and mostly uneventful. At some point I turned to a friend and joked, “Look at us, a couple of Hindus defending a masjid.”

At one point in the night we heard some shouting from a car. It sounded like drunk frat boys. We were expecting a beer bottle or something to be chucked at the mosque or maybe some harsh words.

Hey! We totally get what you guys are doing. That’s cool!

What a wave of relief. There was also comfort that people understood your struggle. That was our only interaction with people from the outside. We lucked out that day. But other Muslims and brown folks elsewhere in the country hadn’t been so lucky.

14 years later, Islamophobia never fully died. ISIS is on the rise. Al-Qaeda is still around. Both are helping fueling a fire between Muslims and non Muslims. Facebook, Twitter and Yik-Yak are lifting the veil of silence among racists. Their actions of course speak pretty loudly too. I think the near future is going to require a lot more coming together to protect people in our communities.