I was just a third grader in southern California when 9/11 happened.
I remember waking up, having breakfast and watching the news, like I always did.
I remember the words “breaking news”, and what looked like a building on fire.
It was pretty bizarre, but I went to school nonetheless.
By the time I came home, my parents told me that it was Osama Bin-Laden that had done it. I had never heard that name before, and I didn’t know why it was so important.
Before I knew it, I was being prepped by my parents on what to say if kids picked on me.
At the time, I thought to myself, “What does Osama Bin-Laden have to do with me?”
It was because he was a Muslim, and I am too. All of a sudden, because two totally different people can be fit under one religious label, they get treated the exact same way.
The way the media would tie the word “Muslim” to any poor connotation frightened me.
Later on, I would hear how Muslims have been discriminated against and I would hear of protests to prevent the construction of mosques.
It was as if I was foreign, even though I was born right here in this country.
I used to be scared that people would pick on me for being Muslim, and that I’d get casted out of having friends because of it.
But that didn’t happen.
Almost every person I met has treated me with respect. They treated me like everyone else deserves to be treated; fairly and without judgment.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you’re Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu or any other religion. What matters is that we’re all American, and the attack hurt us all the same regardless of our beliefs.