The term ‘terrorism’ was something that we had not heard much before 9/11. The disaster that took place exactly 13 years ago changed not only the lives of those who lost their loved ones on that particular day, but the lives of everyone living in this world. Overnight, the fear of terrorism cast a dark shadow over the entire world. The United States launched numerous wars against countries like Iraq and Afghanistan under the banner of ‘eliminating global terrorism’. Hundreds of lives were lost when the World Trade Centre in New York collapsed but millions of more lives were lost in order to ensure nothing of that sort happened again. The US Patriot Act snatched the rights of the public and gave the law enforcement the authority to conduct searches without any warrants, monitor financial transactions to ensure safety, and detain as well as deport suspicious individuals without any explanation. Civilians were stripped of their rights under this act, especially those who belonged to Muslim backgrounds.
United States of America was known to be the land of opportunities for everyone — no matter which religion you belonged to or where you came from. Everyone had the dream of moving to the US to build a future. That dream came crumbling down after 9/11. All Muslims were considered to be terrorists — no questions asked. Those who were already settled in the US were asked to leave their jobs, contracts were cancelled and job visas along with tourist visas were rejected — no explanation was necessary. If one belonged to an Islamic background, he or she was considered a threat; it was as simple as that.
The term ‘racism’ was also not so commonly heard before, but after 9/11 it was one of the most commonly understood terms. Muslims were stereotyped and still are, 13 years later. Those who were in American universities were forced to leave their education and move back to their home countries because they faced constant harassment. Individuals, who had spent their entire lives in the US and considered it their home, were soon homeless. Decades worth of memories were all to be left behind. They were soon aliens to a country they were born in. Seven US states joined hands together in banning the use of sharia law in its judicial system which indicates how Islamophobia spread across the country. A group of terrorists changed the lives of millions of Muslims permanently.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2014.
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