Ten years ago, the Sayeed family learned of the terrorist attacks on the United States. The parents faced a difficult task, explaining to their children that the men who attacked the United States shared a religion with the Sayeeds.
“My parents sat us down and said ‘this is what happened, this is not what we believe, but some people, they don’t understand the religion,’” said Meena Sayeed, the 20-year-old daughter.
“9/11 was a tragedy for the entire American community,” said Dilara Sayeed, the children’s mother. “I think the first feeling every Muslim person that I met felt was great tragedy for the 3,000 lives we lost as an American community.”
The Sayeed children were ten, eight, and six when the U.S. experienced the deadliest attack on home soil. The Islamic religion scattered headlines and as the children grew older, they faced jokes about their beliefs on the playground.
“They would make small jokes, like ‘pass me the ball’ and I’d pass somewhere else and they’d say ‘why didn’t you pass to me, you’re a terrorist,’” said Sajid Sayeed, the 18-year-old son.
“I didn’t really take any of those to heart,” said Miriam Sayeed, the 16-year-old daughter. “I know some of my friends had moments like that where they would be really hurt by it, but I wouldn’t come home crying I would just shake it off.”
The Sayeed family says they’re grateful to live in the local community. They say they have friends who have had a hard time adjusting post 9/11, but not them.
“Our community allowed us to express ourselves as Muslims,” said Dilara. “But I always prayed that in America one day we would rise above all of this misunderstandings and frustration and fear.”
The Sayeed family believes the 9/11 tragedies are something that all Americans need to overcome together, and that in the future Muslim Americans will simply be Americans.
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