I remember that 9/11 was a Tuesday. I remember coming back home after spending the morning studying at the library. I remember my two parents on the couch, watching TV, my father turning his head to me and telling me “Look, look! Planes crashed into the two big buildings, you know the ones in New York, and they collapsed!“. I laughed; I was thinking it was one of those jokes of my dad, that he was trying to convince me that this Hollywood movie he was watching was real news. But common’, you can’t destroy iron and concrete buildings just like this, can you? “No, Look, look! Wallah it’s true news!“. I sat with them. It was true; the Twin Towers had collapsed.
Thinking back of this moment, I don’t think I realized then the event would become a turning point in the world History. Not that I was not ‘impressed’ by the death toll, the horror of the images or the amount of testimonies of the apocalyptical hours, but to be honest when you’re a 80′s kid, when you grew up watching on TV thousands of Bosniacs, Rwandese, Iraqis, Somalians, Palestinians, etc dying, you just end up believing blood is the new world currency countries give and take from each other. New deaths, old business.
Maybe it is horrible to say so, but if I was completely surprised and horrified by the method of the attacks, I was not shocked by the target (the United States). Yes, that particular event was unexpected, but all in all, we knew some attack will happen, sooner or later.We knew it; as well as alas we knew too the reponse of the United States: a blood bath that would make tens of thousands more victims than the 9/11.
This is not relativism. I feel really sorry for the human lives lost, for the 3000 victims, for the tragedy of the families. I admire the firemen that saved lives by losing theirs. I hope they rest in peace. But when among all the testimonies I heard hundreds of ‘We will never forget‘ and ‘Never again‘, I was thinking ‘Of course… but this does not apply only to you, it applies to us too. Don’t you understand we couldn’t forget?‘. Yes, 9/11 was barbary, but in a word ruled by a barbaric imperialism, violent responses sometimes hit back. In particular, the Arab and Muslim World, in the post-WWII and post-cold war period, paid the highest price for American appetite for conquest. Muslims, Arabs and non-Arabs, tried peace, tried indifference, tried diplomacy, tried cooperation, tried NGO’s, tried UN, tried it all. It was only a matter of time until some of them will try violence, whether they were right or wrong in taking that option in consideration.
Who are really Al-Qaeda and what do they really fight for? I don’t know, all I know is that what comes before and after Al-Qaeda did not start nor end with it; however, undoubtlessely, the only scar in the face of the American hegemonic Empire, at that time of History, only Al-Qaeda could do it, and for the world to evolve into a multipolar, fairest world, this first scar was a terrible mandatory step. A fairest world is probably not the ultimate goal of Al-Qaeda, sure, but here we are, one decade later, on our way into a multipolar fairest world.
9/11 impacted on the life of every Muslim, directly or indirectly. For us for example, Muslims in Europe, we had to face one decade of growing racism and islamophobia, partly due to 9/11. All of us, all, we had endlessly to justify ourselves for being Muslims, we had to ‘explain’ that violence was not implicit part of the religion, that extremism was not representative of all we are, that 9/11 and other attacks were not a religious phenomenon but merely a geopolitical phenomenon. As if we were all put on trial after 9/11. And even one decade later, we still have every couple of days a new person popping out of nowhere that knew nothing on Islam, on Muslims or on Muslim World, but confident enough to lecture us about what we are and what we should be.
In the words of those we had to confront, there was more than a naive fear of the unknown, there was too often a belief of being superior, civilized and in charge of civilizing. At the end we all got tired of explaining again and again and again; tired answering the same questions from the same people who knew our answers for having already heard them, but who chose to be deaf to them. Always the same topics, more or less in the same order: djihad, shariaa, burqa/niqab, excision. But for some reason, if we ended up hating the questions we didn’t hate the questioners, nor the very reason of them to question us: were they aware of the fact that it is because the Ummah is more than a vague theoretical concept they instinctively felt that world Muslims were an informal global community sharing the outcome of the good and bad experiences of its members?
One decade later, the world has changed: the bloody wars against terrorism, the global economical crisis, the Arab revolutions, the Oslo blast, Wikileaks. In all these, there is enough evidence for who is not blind to aknowledge the threat does not come from Islam and Muslims but from imperialism, materialism, greed, fierce capitalism and nihilistic hate. My own cure against the dark sides of my soul, I found it in the Quran. And I don’t care if you find it in the Bible, in the Torah, in art or in the eyes of your child or if you are still looking for it, as long as you understood that life is about bringing light into the night, you are my brother (or sister!) in Humanity.