It’s been 16 years since the citizens of the “City that never sleeps” somehow fell asleep forever. The devastating nightmare took place in the lively city of New York. People couldn’t believe their eyes as they saw the airplanes flying towards World Trade Centre one after another & then it happened. The planes blew away the entire building, the screams of people echoed louder than thunder. As layers of dust, ashes & debris unfurled the New York City, thousands of people died & many others left to mourn forever. Later America came up with a convenient whipping boy within days of the attack, the Muslims; though many among the mourners were Muslims themselves.

The tragic incident of 9/11 triggered a series of unfortunate events for not only the Muslims of USA but for all over the world or anyone that came close to the description of a Muslim. The event has formed a vendetta being avenged every day since September 11th, 2001. The overnight change in behavior was so striking; 16 years of hatred have solidified the wet cement of racism & Muslims are considered as aliens by the rest of the world. America calls itself “the land of the free” has narrowed down its paths for the American Muslims who have been living there since birth, generalizing the act of one on all Muslims of the world.

This repulsiveness, anger, fear mongering & stereotyping has led to the birth of a new word in the American dictionary, ‘Islamophobia’. Research demonstrates that Muslim Americans were doubly tortured, first by the attacks themselves and after that again by the backwash towards the Muslims that transpired as a result. In 2002, FBI announced that episodes focusing on individuals, foundations and organizations related to Islam expanded by no less than 1,600 percent. The report noticed that preceding 2001, Islam was the least targeted religion. Muslims confronted new personal battles every day. Even minor things, like flying on planes, traversing security checkpoints, getting employed & finding apartments without bigotry & practicing religion without being investigated, has become a serious issue for the American Muslims to this day.

According to the Director of Crisis Text Line, a USA based charitable group witnessed a major accretion in Muslims reaching out for help. During the terror attacks carried out by self-proclaimed Muslims, like those in Paris and San Bernardino, California, many Muslim teenagers were persecuted & the rate of teenagers subjected to bullying and harassment increased by 6.6 times not long after the Paris attacks in November 2015.

9/11 fabricated the misery of many Muslim countries as well like Afghanistan & Pakistan. It seems as if the Muslims all over the world are declared the culprits of 9/11 & must be avenged. Living a torturous life every day is worse than death. 16 years of harassment & Islamophobia & undefined number of years to come. It is time we should step above this stereotyping, spread peace & break out of this temporal loop before we ruin the world with our actions.

MOHSIN SALEEM ULLAH,

Rawalpindi, September 14.