Graphic by staff graphic designer Sumen Imtiaz.

Time stopped Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. 

The world heard New Yorkers’ cries while the smoke from the explosion crossed the other side of the river towards New Jersey. America has experienced nothing like this before — a terrorist attack that left nearly 3,000 people without a loved one, 25,000 people injured, many without a job and a loss of security within their own country. 

America was left vulnerable. Many could say that this was single-handedly the worst event in the country’s history.

The aftermath to some seemed justified. Proud Americans now lived in fear and questioned whether anything would be safe again. Airports changed their security systems and the government worked tirelessly to keep people safe. 

In a sense, we were united as one to keep each other going. To motivate others to prevail through the hardships that were the terrorist attacks. 

We are America, we can overcome anything. Patriotism was at an all time high. 

People from different states were sending their love and prayers while people from other continents were showing their support in the hard times — that was America’s new systems of safety. 

However, it was a dark time in America as well. 

Once we found out who infiltrated the planes and attacked the towers, hate crimes against people of Middle Eastern descent, Muslims, and South East Asian rose throughout the country and people were united in prejudice. It stemmed from fear, but was guided with ignorance and rage. 

Sikhs were also targeted because they usually wear turbans, which are stereotypically associated with Muslims, even though it is not the same religion. There were countless reports on attacks on Mosques and other religious buildings such as a firebombing of a Hindu temple, and assaults on people. 

Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh mistaken for a Muslim, was fatally shot on Sept. 15, 2001 in Mesa, Arizona. 

People who were perceived to be Middle Eastern descent went through hate crimes as many assumed they were followers of Islam. Studies found that people who looked to be Muslim, Arab and South East Asian reported that they did not feel safe walking the streets of their neighborhoods anymore. Long time local businesses– owned by Syrian owners, Egyptian owners, Indian owners, Paki owners, all walks of life — were now vandalized, broken into, burnt and defaced because of the racial fuel people had in their hearts. 

Between Sept. 11 to 15, there were 645 bias incidents reported. Assault, shootings and harassment were still rampant in the streets. Children were being mocked in schools for how they looked and were called “terrorists” by other kids.

But the Muslim American response to these events were all positive. 

Groups such as the Islamic Society of North America, American Muslim Alliance, Council of American-Islamic Relations and many more all came together to give back and provide medical assistance, food, shelter and blood drives for victims. 

While there were people committing hate crimes and assaulting those who they thought to be Muslim, it was actually Muslims themselves, and people from other countries, condemning the actions of the attacks on the towers. 

In the Quran — a Muslim bible — and the pillars of Islam, it is apparent that you always give back and help others in a time of need. In this case, fellow Muslims came together to help one another even, though they feared for their lives. 

They stood in their faith while the world turned their back against them along with other people of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent. 

Although security systems have improved and changed the way they handle threats, we can never forget the inexcusable crimes committed against people of a certain religion and race. America was in shambles but some turned against its own people. We are supposed to be a country united, not divided, but in 2001, that was not the case.

Ignorance swept the nation. 

Accepting a variety of cultures, customs and people who look different is what brings everyone together. During a time of crisis, it should be instinctual to help your fellow neighbor. 

Today, we remember those who have lost their lives. 

We remember the pain America went through. 

We will never forget the trials and tribulations that we underwent as a nation. We will also never forget the pain and suffering some had to endure because of racism and prejudice.

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