9/11 FIVE YEARS LATER: FINDING STRENGTH IN COMMUNITY
Five years ago, 12-year-old Tahara Miah was sitting in a Lower East Side classroom when the 9/11 terror attacks rocked the world - her world and her city.
"I was scared to death," she recalled. "I was worried about my parents and what was going to happen to us downtown. I actually saw the buildings collapse from the window of the school."
Up until then, the most difficult part of Tahara's life as a Muslim youngster growing up in the city was coming-of-age issues, such as wearing a headscarf and being allowed to date.
After it was revealed that Muslim extremists were behind the unimaginable attacks that left almost 3,000 dead, Tahara said she and many of her friends were stunned.
"I was heartbroken," said Tahara, now 17. "The definition of Islam is peace, and this was so violent and destructive that I couldn't fathom that Muslim people could do something like this."
At an age when "you'd just rather stay home isolated . . . people said horrible things and we got stares . . . yeah, it hurt," she said, recalling the days following Sept. 11. Fidgeting with her black headscarf, the thoughtful Bangladeshi-born teen said she was apprehensive about returning to Riis Upper School.
When classes resumed, however, she and other students mourned together. It made her feel "at home, and [that] people cared about me."