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9/11 brought Islam under scrutiny

'Muslim-terrorists and Muslims, it is hard for some Americans to differentiate the two'

September 08, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Women bow in prayer during Eid al-Adah, a service celebrating the day of sacrifice and a celebration of the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The service was hosted by the Islamic Society of Western Maryland.
Herald-Mail file photo

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks showed our vulnerability as a nation and thrust religious questions into headlines and dinner-table conversations that had given very few Americans pause prior to that day, according to Don Stevenson, a retired pastor of Christ's Reformed Church in Hagerstown.

"When we were bombed, it brought America to its knees," said Stevenson, who is adjunct professor of philosophy, ethics and religion at Hagerstown Community College. "We as a nation, we were kicked in the stomach, so to speak; we were at ground zero in our psyche.

"I think we were totally ignorant of the world until 9/11," he said. "It was a turning point, in my opinion."

According to the Associated Press, 2,977 people died as a result of the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and in the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. The figures do not include the 19 hijackers aboard the four airplanes involved.

"I think, certainly, things changed after 9/11. There is no doubt about that," Salih Yumlu of Hagerstown said.

Yumlu, a Muslim since his birth in a village outside Istanbul, Turkey, said he has been a citizen of the United States since 1976.

For him, there was little difference being a Muslim in Turkey, the United States, or even in London, where he earned his doctorate in engineering.

"I went ahead and practiced my religion the best I knew," he said. "Don't lie, don't cheat, don't harm and so forth; these are basic tenants (of Islam.) Wish on others what you wish on yourself."

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