ten years ago, i woke up to a front page photo on the inquirer of two familiar towers burning. it was the twin towers in new york, arguably the united states' most iconic symbol of economic power and financial strength. the twin towers burning was a surreal sight, one i never thought i'd see. but 9/11 did happen and 10 years on, we are still feeling the effects of the attacks that defined this decade.

9/11 spawned the wars in afghanistan and iraq as the u.s. and its allies spearheaded the "war on terror." several other terrorist attacks took place all over the world, even as governments beefed up security and anti-terror policies. the manhunt for osama bin laden, the head of al qaeda who admitted to masterminding the attacks, dragged on for years until he was killed in a raid in pakistan on may 1, 2011. but osama's death is, by no means, the end of terrorism.

while the u.s. drew sympathy from the rest of the world for the sheer number of casualties (almost 3,000) and the destruction that the attacks caused, 9/11 conveyed the sense of hatred and resentment that some muslims and arabs feel towards the u.s. for its foreign policies in the arab region. to them, the u.s. was no longer the mediator in the israeli-palentine conflict; it had become the enemy.

that the attacks were carried out by muslims only highlighted the underlying suspicion, skepticism and fear towards muslims, particularly in the u.s. more and more muslims fell victim to profiling and the paranoia towards islam reached a point that a florida-based pastor oversaw the burning of quran early this year. and just last month, a norwegian launched a coordinated bombing and shooting spree which killed 92 people, as he called for "a christian war to defend europe against the threat of muslim domination."

incidentally, in response to a new york times article on the oslo attacks which i reposted on this blog, i received an email from elizabeth potter of unity productions. elizabeth and unity productions are initiating an online film and social media project that aims to "change the narrative – from muslims as the other, to muslims as our fellow americans." they're asking people of different backgrounds to pledge and share a real life story about a Muslim friend, neighbor, or colleague that they admire. watch their video below:

the film brilliantly puts together soundbites from evangelical preachers (or so they sound) and media commentators spewing out hatred against muslims and islam juxtaposed with images of what seemed like ordinary americans, who happen to be muslims, living an ordinary, peaceful life in the u.s. the message: you may not know it but your neighbor, who acts and lives like you, may be a muslim--far from the terrorist you imagine a muslim to be.

i may not be an american but the message holds true for the rest of the world. 9/11 was a terrorist attack plain and simple. but it was not carried out by islam and not all muslims took part in the attack.

my fellow american is a worthwhile project deserving our support. help promote this project if you share the same sentiments.

for more information, visit their website: My Fellow American

no words will perhaps be able to capture the devastation caused by 9/11. what i cannot put into writing, i'll share through pictures. see the 25 most powerful photos of 9/11 that life and yahoo put together here.

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