Saturday, 11 September 2010

Remembering That Day

Everyone remembers where they were on September 11.

I was sitting in a classroom in Toronto that morning and the instructor was fiddling with the television set to play a video when we saw the images of the World Trade Center burning and saw the planes crashed into the two buildings.

It was absolutely surreal to watch. It was even more horrific witnessing the building crumble before our eyes and news anchors at a loss for words at what to say.

As we were watching this, our instructor, a media relations expert, told us that the world would be changed forever by this.

I called my parents, waking them up and telling them to turn on the television. They could hardly believe it.

I went back to my aunt's apartment, shaken by what I'd seen and we were worried that something may hit the CN Tower. What is this world coming to, I was thinking. Is this the end of the world? We were all glued to the television trying to find out who did this unspeakable act, of purposely steering planes into the World Trade Center and killing so many innocent people.

I could hardly sleep that night, wondering if we were next. Who did this? And why?

In Hong Kong, my great aunt told me they were watching it on TV thinking it was a movie, as it was in the evening, the prime time slot.

At that time I didn't know much about Islam, Afghanistan or a man called Osama bin Laden. Neither did the rest of the world.

Later, then US President George W. Bush called for war -- you're either with us, or against us -- making it impossible for anyone to question whether his decision was right or wrong.

Nine years later we have yet to have caught Osama, let alone stopped radical attacks on our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. The war has led to a greater proliferation of extremists who have given others the impression that Islam is an evil religion. Pastor Terry Jones in Gainsville, Florida who wanted to burn the Koran today but later rescinded his idea is a case in point.

It has also led to a few second-generation immigrant Muslims to set up terrorist cells around the world, and the general public wondering why they feel isolated and don't integrate with the rest of society.

However, I'd like to think most people have learned more about Islam, that it is a peaceful religion and it is the fundamentalists who make it seem extremist. People have the right to worship and freedom of speech. Security is getting tighter and tighter, which in some ways is good, in others too troublesome.

Then Mayor Rudy Giuliani was considered a hero for keeping the city together, but then lost his senatorial bid to Hillary Clinton. He wrote a book about his mayoral experiences and now runs a consulting company.

New York is still trying to heal, by deciding to place an Islamic center near ground zero. Some are strongly opposed, while others think it should be allowed. Those who are against the idea have not yet accepted or understood Islam. They think of it as the sole reason why 9/11 happened.

The emotions still stir nine years later because no one can forget those images of that day.

Today we pause and reflect, but we need to move on and make this world a better place every day.

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