Sept. 11, 2001 was one of the darkest days of my adult life. The memories of the pain and fear I felt on that day are still vivid more than four years later.

As an American Muslim, the attacks of Sept. 11 hurt me twice over: first, it hurt to see so many innocent fellow Americans brutally and mercilessly killed. But it hurt even more to learn that those Americans were killed by fanatics murdering in the name of Islam. That hurt still stings my heart.

Enter “United 93.”

Watching the film about the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania would be enormously powerful and tremendously emotional for me. It would give me an opportunity to feel if only for a moment the pain of some of the victims of the 9-11 attacks. It would allow me to relive the horror from a different perspective, and share in the national trauma with millions of fellow Americans in a therapeutic, healing way.

And it would make me angry. To watch those “holy warriors” as those murderous fanatics are wont to call themselves invoke the name of the Holy God I worship, while killing innocent human beings, would kindle fires of rage in my heart.

To watch those murderous fanatics stand up and yell “Allahu Akbar” (“God is the Greatest”) the same words I use in daily prayer would make my blood boil. It makes me terribly angry to see my faith twisted and perverted to the point in which the murder of innocents is justified and glorified as a “holy war.”

Yet, I must be completely honest: I am afraid of going to see this film in the theater.

I am afraid that fellow moviegoers will take their anger out on me, even though I have nothing to do with the terrorism committed in the name of my faith. Perhaps this fear is irrational Americans are good people, and I should never be afraid of my own people. But a recent incident in Arizona helped rekindle my fear.

On May 2, the Arizona office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported that several young Muslim women were verbally abused by two people who said they recently saw “United 93.” (MORE)

[Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago physician and columnist for Beliefnet]


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