Whose September 11?

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Watching TV nowadays without being exposed to pictures of the WTC towers being hit and collapsing, is almost impossible. It nearly feels as if it is still 2001. Images of individual people suffering from the events of that day are splashed in the media. We are constantly reminded of how much America suffered that day with losses of human life totaling less than 3,000. The economy was immersed in recession, and the American people started to feel vulnerable. Stories kept coming in about fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers. Luckily, for them, there were cameras rolling, columnists ready to tell their stories to the world.

What the world forgot in the midst of this, were the hundreds and thousands of non-Americans dying at that time across the whole world. People who have no water to drink in Ethiopia, Somalia and the rest of Africa, the women being gang-raped in Gujarat, the families whose houses are being demolished in Palestine, the children crying after the deaths of their parents in Afghanistan, the sisters and brothers handicapped by pieces of shrapnel and bullets in Kashmir, the husbands and wives torn apart in Chechnya.. for them there was no one. It seemed as if their stories didn’t matter. They were ‘old stuff’. No reporter wanted to hear about the father who had no money to buy food or water with, or the mother who saw helplessly as one, two, three or more of her children were bombed to smithereens. No one wanted to record the cries of the babies whose bodies were burned by the bombs or the tears of the husbands whose wives couldn’t survive to see their newborn children, due to lack of proper medication. No one wanted to know about the parents who had high hopes for their now-dead sons and daughters, or the sisters whose loving brothers never returned from school.

The whole world does not want to know that just because freelance writers don’t reach to these people, it doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer. Just because cameras aren’t readily available to capture images of these individuals starving, dying, or suffering.. that doesn’t mean that this does not happen. Just because reporters would rather pen stories about 9/11 victims, and leave out the stories of the victims of US and her allies’ military activities.. that should not, in any way, convince us that everyone is living happy lives, while only Americans suffered, even though they are ‘innocent’.

How could the tens of thousands of malnutritioned children be anything but innocent? How could the thousands of women abused by occupying armies be anything but guiltless? How could the hundreds of unarmed men shot in cold blood and labeled terrorists, without proof, be anything but innocent? How could the murdered non-Americans be so easily left unnoticed, while the dead Americans must be honored by the world? How could this be anything but racism?

Now with the American nation preparing to remember September 11 and those who died that day, let me remind them that there are millions of people across the world who are also in pain, and they have been suffering from far earlier than last year. Most, if not all, are suffering directly or indirectly because of the American government’s policies. As citizens who elected this government in a ‘free and fair’ country, the Americans share the blame. Will the American public observe a minute of silence for those their government has caused to suffer for tens of years, across the world?

Those innocents who suffer or die are also parts of families who love their lost ones just as any American would. They have their own stories, which deserve to be listened to. Their each day is a tragedy.. a catastrophe.. a ‘September 11’ é the only difference is that their disasters are not just on one date, but each and every day has been made a living hell for them.

Ms. S. A. A. is a 16 year old Muslim, who has graduated from senior high school.

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