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Muslim-Americans reflect on Sept. 11 anniversary

September 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
As America remembers the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Eyewitness News is looking at how life has changed for Muslim-Americans in Southern California over the last decade.

Because radical Muslims were responsible for the attacks, life changed drastically for Muslim-Americans. The call to prayer still comes with hurdles, especially on the anniversary.

Eyewitness News spoke with three Muslim-Americans about life in the wake of Sept. 11.

"I personally don't see it as a worse life," said Muslim-American Hassaan Shahawy. "I see it as more challenging for sure."

Challenges some realized they would be facing as soon as the attacks happened.

"Every Muslim in this country would be blamed for that action," said Muslim-American Abed Awad.

And in the 10 years since, many have found themselves on the defensive.

"How many times can you say that you are not a terrorist?" said Muslim-American Soha Yassine.

Yassine was in college when it happened. She admits she does get tired of defending her religion. But the attacks have also opened doors that were once closed.

"It gave people the opportunity to feel OK about asking me questions about being a Muslim," said Yassine.

For Muslims at the Islamic Center, the anniversary is an educational opportunity. And they do get a lot more questions when that anniversary comes around.

"I get nervous, but also a bit prepared in my mind," said Shahawy. "I try to organize my thoughts. I try to remember who I am, who people think I am, and try to really be able to be prepared to present my case to anyone who comes across with questions."

Key to that case is the fact that the men behind the attacks do not represent the hopes and beliefs of most Muslims.

"9/11 was perpetrated by Muslims," said Yassine. "So long as there is a memory of 9/11, it is the responsibility of Muslims to express that Islam is a religion about peace."

Muslims are also trying to remind their countrymen that while they pray to Allah, they also say the pledge of allegiance.

"We came here by choice," said Awad. "We want to be in America. For us this is the ultimate dream."

And despite all of the challenges they face in the wake of Sept. 11, it is a dream no one here wants to give up on.

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