Beware Knee Jerks

I lived in Egypt.  I think we all know that, by now.  I lived in lots of places, but during the summer of 2001, I was a student hire at the US Agency for International Development.  It was an extremely cushy job, and I met lots of awesome people.  One was named Mo.  Mo was moving to the states to get a masters degree in engineering.  He was a great person, with a fantastic personality.  He promised to keep in touch.

And then 9/11 hit.

I knew he was going to be in New York, as that’s where he was studying.  I wrote him frantically, asking him if he was ok.  He wrote back, said he was fine.  And then he went quiet.  No emails.

I saw on the very limited English speaking news that officials in New York had arrested a “Muslim” involved with the attack.  The court sketch of the suspect looked familiar, but it flashed across the screen too quickly to really take any notice.

Maybe some of you remember this.

Yeah.  That was Mo.

Later on, he was exonerated.  He went back to Egypt, and lives in relative obscurity, trying not to hold a grudge against a country that he truly  loved.

So when I see news headlines that say that a Saudi was seen “acting suspiciously” and “running away” from the Boston marathon explosion, I am a little skeptical.  I would hate for someone else who is innocent to receive the same treatment that Mo got.  We are all scared, angry, sad… lots of things.  But I urge all of you to be cautious when you speak about “killing Muslims“.  After 9/11 there was a horrible string of xenophobic hate crimes.

Take the time to hug your loved ones, and breathe.

Just breathe.

If you want more info on Mo, follow these links.  (1) (2) (3)


3 responses to ‘Beware Knee Jerks

  1. So, now after reading the 3 links about your friend Mo, I am beyond angry. Anger may be a bit of an overreaction since I don’t personally know Mo but I have no doubt that he underwent horrific terror at the hands of our fellow Americans (FBI). When I did my poly last Spring in STL, I was treated so badly and harassed during the 3 hour session that I about walked out of NGA for good. Not only was I accused of possibly being a terrorist and actively engaging in counter measures, I was threatened to lose my job and be walked out by security in front of all my co-workers. Yes, I should have filed a complaint but I was so disoriented by the whole thing and a little embarassed that it took me 1 hour to return to my office because I was crying so hard. Anyway, I have a security clearance and have gone through 2 renewals so you would think that if there was any terrorist activity in my background, it would have been found. I can’t imagine what a normal person, who just happened to be from Egypt and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, was subjected to. It makes me so mad that I can’t help but be embarassed to be an American sometimes. It makes you wonder how anyone can actually be successful in not holding a grudge when treated the way he was.

    I avoid news at all costs for many reasons. One in particular is the way in which the media does not actually give us any information about current events. I think I would be more suspicious of someone not running away from the explosions than someone who was. I feel sorry for any “non-white” person in the area of the explosion for fear they will be unjustly held and accused of involvement.

    Thanks for sharing your blog Annie! I see our minds are alike 🙂


  2. Nichole –

    I can’t believe your poly went the way it did. My husband had the same experience. And, of course, he still has a job. Those things are ridiculous. I think knowing his previous experiences is what made mine a 15 minute walk in the park, for me. The dude actually said that I was the fastest he’d ever done.

    Mo later on told me that he understood, but at the same time didnt… if that made any sense. I remember him saying that all he wanted, immediately, was a Mt Dew Code Red. That’s just his personality. He’s a fantastically funny and genuine person. And he would do anything to help.

    Yeah. I’m still unnerved by his experience, but it’s easier to change the process from the inside than the out. I never thought I’d be in the career I’m in, but now that I’m here, especially with DHS, I hope I can get to a point where I can help others learn from the past.


  3. I hope you can make a difference Annie. I actually believe you can. You are the type of person who can change the world. Keep on keeping on and I will enjoy reading your thoughts now that I found them.


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