Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflections on 9/11: Learning from Mona

Entry for 11 September 2011:

Our friend Becky, from Trinity Episcopal Church, our old church back in Toledo, Ohio, asked me recently if I’d be willing to write a bit for their newsletter about how the events on 11 September 2001 had affected me since.  Here is a slightly revised version of what I wrote:

In the months after 9/11, I happened to be working with Mona, a devout Muslim postgraduate student of mine, and had several long conversations with her about the double victimization she and her fellow Muslims experienced after 9/11:  First as an American and thus an object of the attacks; but second and more importantly because of the discrimination she personally and other Muslims experienced after 9/11, including constant monitoring of her local mosque by federal agents.  As a result, I learned more about Islam and took every opportunity to defend Muslims from unfair treatment and prejudice.  She has since completed her PhD and now works at a university in Cairo, where she has become involved in the largely peaceful revolution that has been happening in Egypt.  My experience with Mona has since helped me to work more compassionately with other Islamic postgraduate students here in Scotland. 

I thought of this again this morning, on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, but also because the lessons today focused on forgiveness. (For example, at the end of Genesis, Joseph forgives his brothers for having sold him into slavery.)  And I found myself wondering again how different things might have been if our main response to the 9/11 attacks had been to seek understanding, reconciliation and forgiveness rather than revenge…

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