BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Tomorrow marks two decades since September 11 and for many Americans, life was never the same and even 20 years later, one religious’ community, in particular, is still feeling the effects of it.
Ali Zachary said he remembers where he was on September 11 when he watched on tv what was happening in New York and the whirlwind of emotions he felt that day is still with him even today.
“It’s a tragic issue. It touched all Americans, including us Americans, Muslim Americans,” said Zachary.
Ali Zachary, a Muslim in Bakersfield, said the tragic attacks were not just felt by one community but everyone was impacted.
“It’s not a Muslim issue, it’s not a Christian issue, it’s not a Jewish issue, it’s an American issue. There was an attack on our soil, we are all saddened by this tragedy. A lot of people lost their lives, including Muslims,” said Zachary.
But even so, September 11 brought with it a wave of challenges for the Muslim community because people started looking at them differently. Zachary said it’s a sentiment that is still with him even today.
“There are concerns to this day that somebody with crazy notions and a crazy idea will come and do something and it makes me worry all the time about my community, about my children, about my grandchildren. But this is the life we are living,” said Zachary.
Zachary said even the way people viewed him had changed. He recalled when one client he worked with was surprised when she found out he was Muslim.
“She could not believe someone like me could be so nice to her,” said Zachary.
Zachary said he thinks the best way to bring communities together and get rid of the fear of Islam is simple, through communication.
He believes that if people learn about other Muslims, they will see that an entire religion was not at fault for what happened. But he wants people to have an open mind.
“All I’m saying is come and meet Muslims. Come meet us, our doors are open, ask as many questions as you like, but I ask you that you be respectful. I don’t want you coming here with preconceived notions because, if you come here with preconceived ideas that we behave a certain way, you will not be open to any new ideas or thoughts that you hear,” said Zachary.
Zachary said the mosques and Islamic communities in Bakersfield want you to be involved and get to know them better.