Changes in the Colorado Muslim community 20 years after 9/11 terrorist attacks

DENVER (KDVR) — Twenty years after 9/11, the Colorado Muslim community reflects on the tragic events of that day and how life has changed since the terrorist attacks.

Muslim leaders tell FOX31, despite the hurtles of living in a post 9/11 world, there have been plenty of positive changes for those practicing Islam in the U.S.

FOX31 reporter Aimee Lewis asked Colorado Muslims what the best and worst thing was to come from 9/11.

“It was a shock for many Muslims to witness what was happening during 9/11,” said Ismail Akbulut with the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation. “I could not believe how humans could do something like that to other innocent human beings, it was just terrible.”

It was a day that changed everything. Now 20 years later with troops out of Afghanistan, the past two decades have certainly seen their share of fear and hate.

“I remember my wife was walking with friends outside. Some were wearing the headscarf. Somebody drove by and yelled ‘terrorists,’” said Akbulut.

Many Colorado Muslims went underground, taking off their headscarves, even avoiding Mosques. Their biggest challenge, however, became proving to the Western world that their religion can conform to American beliefs and ways of life, and not all Muslims are radical. 

“This is still going on today. Some groups are trying to portray us as not being compatible with Western values or democracy,” said Akbulut.

A sharing of misinformation caused hate crimes to rise across the board. Anti-Islam attacks naturally saw its biggest spike in the immediate months after the towers fell. However, local Muslims also found an outpouring of support and curiosity. Interest in Islam 101 classes at local schools and religious organizations soared in recent years.

“The numbers of students who were interested in studying Islam increased by the hundreds,” said Akbulut. “In Colorado universities there was a spike, people studying Islam and the Middle East. There still is a lot of interest about that.”

All this, while connections between religious groups grew more intentional. Jews and Christians began helping on Muslim holidays and celebrations, and vice versa.

“Many other faith traditions reached out to Muslims in support, solidarity, and kindness. They stood with Muslims. Throughout the years, these relationships started getting strong. There was a lot of trust,” added Akbulut.

KDVR Sep 12, 2021