2006.09.11: September 11, 2006: Headlines: COS - Morocco: 911: Islamic Issues: City Limits: Morocco RPCV P. Adem Carroll says: I began studying about Islam after I joined the Peace Corps and I chose to begin practicing instead of just study and itís still a work in progress

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Morocco: Peace Corps Morocco : The Peace Corps in Morocco: 2006.09.11: September 11, 2006: Headlines: COS - Morocco: 911: Islamic Issues: City Limits: Morocco RPCV P. Adem Carroll says: I began studying about Islam after I joined the Peace Corps and I chose to begin practicing instead of just study and itís still a work in progress

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Morocco RPCV P. Adem Carroll says: I began studying about Islam after I joined the Peace Corps and I chose to begin practicing instead of just study and itís still a work in progress

Morocco RPCV P. Adem Carroll says:  I began studying about Islam after I joined the Peace Corps and I chose to begin practicing instead of just study and itís still a work in progress

"Well yeah, internally as well as externally. The clash of civilizations is being told to us, and itís being told almost from the beginning that the world changed on 9/11. People have taken it and used it for all kinds of agendas. Whether itís just self-righteous anger ... I just think of immature reactions in my own community. And denial and conspiracy theories and things that are like that. Or you know this increase in executive authority and all of this stuff thatís dealing with trying to give the Geneva conventions away and this whole power grab is frightening. The papers try to do stories on Muslims; sometimes they have happy Muslims and human interest stuff, but thereís so much thatís wrong. I have had things written about me in the last few years that are just completely made up. ... For some of them there can be no good Muslim, there can be no moderate Muslim. Or they define it in an impossible way, and so I found myself in one camp but also wanting to be a bridge, you know. I find that the position of moderate Muslim, or bridge, has been so difficult to maintain credibility or maintain any traction at all. "

Morocco RPCV P. Adem Carroll says: I began studying about Islam after I joined the Peace Corps and I chose to begin practicing instead of just study and itís still a work in progress

THREE NEW YORKERS
REFLECT ON SEPTEMBER 11

Leaders from different areas of civic life gathered days before the anniversary to discuss the terrorist attacks of five years ago and where they leave the city now. > Moderated by Karen Loew

[Excerpt]

ADEM CARROLL: Iím a native New Yorker. I grew up on 11th Street, across the street from the hospital and Rayís Pizza, and my father lives down on Prince Street. And yeah I guess thatís part of my identity. Iíve been Muslim since 1988 and I began studying about Islam after I joined the Peace Corps and I chose to begin practicing instead of just study and itís still a work in progress. But interestingly somehow I find myself in this position doing a lot of work since 9/11 with the community, also downtown thereís a Sufi community and thatís one of the groups that connected with us as far as religion and faith. So I feel a lot of different kinds of roots downtown and currently where I was working, at Islamic Circle of North America since the week of 9/11. I burnt out really about three to four months ago and Iím now working kind of as a consultant on the Muslim Consultative Network. And Iím also working right now with the Save Darfur coalition ... [seems] to be continuing my response to 9/11 in one way or another.

Just the day before I had gone to the Swedish Institute thinking Iím gonna change my life and become a massage therapist, and I was really considering it. And then 9/11 woke me up, just waking up hearing WINS. And before the other plane hit I was on the phone talking to my family and I said, oh you should turn the radio on. And my mother said, oh whatís that noise overhead and it was the second plane. And everybody was literally talking about itÖ and my father went up to his roof and saw the second one hit. And I didnít see any of the impact, I didnít have a TV. I just listened to everything on the radio, and I went down to Steinway Street and some of the Arab stores there have big TVís where they watch Al-Jazeera and stuff like that. So I would go up and see it from the roof and then I would go down and watch it on their TV, and it was just strange because there were some people who didnít even seem to be paying attention and I just couldnít imagine it. And so I do remember standing up on my roof with my camera and watching the collapse and thinking I didnít understand what I was seeing, you know I didnít understand what that was. And then of course one gets into the email, I donít remember, I didnít have a cell phone then so I donít remember the calling part, but that was a lot of my next days: Ďwhere is everybody?í And some people I knew had their names on lists of missing but they turned out not to be, and there were all these lists. And then people were saying 10,000 people or more were lost and that was the day I got called by Islamic Circle that had my resume and they said ďwe need your help,Ē and basically there were Muslims that had been lost. And they continued to think for years, some of them, that thousands of them were lost. And everyone felt that there had to be, as a big monolithic religion, they had to be proportionately affected. ... So you know the first experience was kind of, of the city, and locating oneís family, and then I began to specialize more. And though Islamic Circle did help non-Muslims they tried to specialize in those who were underserved ... people who we thought would not be reached. And later on Islamic Circle joined which was New York Disaster Interfaith Services. And I might have spoken at one of their events, Iím not sure. And yeah, they put on some conferences over the years and itís still going. After the first two or three months really focusing on taking families to the desk center and the pier and various places, and sitting with them in their kitchens and watching their kids say, ĎIím waiting for my dad, everyday we go to the train.í You know, strange stuff that families didnít want to tell their children. And trying to get them served, and after doing that for about three months then I started working on the detainee stuff a lot more.

I donít know if [the meaning] is changing for me or not. Just a couple of months ago, because I removed myself from my work, I thought you know, maybe I could still get counseling. Because I havenít gotten any; Iíve tried to get other people counseling. You know, airplanes pass, it affects me and all of that. And I thought, well, let me try some. So Iím sort of realizing that, you know, Iíve been sort of damaged a bit. And everyone was talking about this for years saying expect that. I finally made time to deal with it. And in a way for the last few months Iíve been trying to recognize that. And also Iím not in the front trenches of taking the phone calls getting the families, getting in front of the media. Which I was doing for a long time, and sometimes the folks are very sensitive [but] sometimes theyíre camping out in your front office. With 9/11, a month ago the calls started, and we like to speak with them. ... I guess as a spokesman, I want to do less, and as someone whoís been affected I guess Iím going to deal with it privately. ... Iím really glad that the air quality thing has come out, finally.

You mentioned Katrina, I mean Muslim communities are in a place right now because Lebanon was attacked. The way itís really impacting their ability to think and function clearly. So I think a lot of these things coincide, so last year it was Katrina and 9/11, and this year for a lot of us itís Lebanon and 9/11. And then of course we have ongoing terror alerts and arrests, whether real or fake or whatever, you know that causes people this fear. So I think that often there are many factors that interact. So when the 9/11 anniversary comes, I think a lot of that stuff comes up. And if itís, you know, a beautiful springlike day, then you feel kind of weird.

Well yeah, internally as well as externally. The clash of civilizations is being told to us, and itís being told almost from the beginning that the world changed on 9/11. People have taken it and used it for all kinds of agendas. Whether itís just self-righteous anger ... I just think of immature reactions in my own community. And denial and conspiracy theories and things that are like that. Or you know this increase in executive authority and all of this stuff thatís dealing with trying to give the Geneva conventions away and this whole power grab is frightening. The papers try to do stories on Muslims; sometimes they have happy Muslims and human interest stuff, but thereís so much thatís wrong. I have had things written about me in the last few years that are just completely made up. ... For some of them there can be no good Muslim, there can be no moderate Muslim. Or they define it in an impossible way, and so I found myself in one camp but also wanting to be a bridge, you know. I find that the position of moderate Muslim, or bridge, has been so difficult to maintain credibility or maintain any traction at all.

Iíve dealt with the fallout and the backlash through certain human beings and seeing how that affects them and their families. And I carry it with me. So itís not so much the trauma of the families who lost somebody, although I feel very moved by them, I stay in touch with some. But thereís folks who have had someone disappear for a couple of months and Iíve been through some of that with them. And then they were located but they were in isolation at MDC (Metropolitan Detention Center) or another place. One [deportee] just got in touch with me last week. I hadnít heard from him for three years, he had just met another former detainee in Egypt who was in touch. And they know about the class action suit that Center for Constitutional Rights is doing and so he was wondering whatís up with that. But he wrote me a little bit about the trauma that heís been going through and that he wouldnít leave the house for six months after he was deported, and he mentioned a few things in a very brief but a very real way. And it was so resonant because almost all of them went through it. That they couldnít hold a job for a year and a half after they went through isolation. You know some of them lost their spouses, or they just went through so much. Truck drivers and convenience store owners who were really just swept up in the paranoia after 9/11 -- and Iím not saying that there are not bad guys out there. But donít be naïve. A lot of folks right after were just swept up. And that was hard for me, and what sort of inspired me to ... keep looking on the justice angle through human rights. And Iím glad that there are people who care even if theyíre not in the White House. And we really need to continue to do human rights education because those polls out there which say that a lot of Americans donít care and they think torture is okay, itís very troubling. And so in the backlash itís not just people throwing coffee on someone in the subway because theyíre wearing a headscarf, itís not just the bad looks, bad things that people say. It really goes very far.

Yeah, I understand that and some of our folks are frustrated because they feel theyíre trying to get the message out and no oneís listening. Thereís a disconnect. And I donít want to let them off the hook, the community ... is not centralized and itís been very weak in some respects. So I donít think itís been effective getting its message out. But I think the Islamic Society of North America had a petition and there were hundreds of Imams that signed it against terror, and who knows about that and also it came a little late.

Weíre all ashamed, you know? ... So weíve got a long way to grow really and in terms of getting the message out, I think part of it is on us and part of it is on the media not buying into the clash of civilizations as the story. And being able to sell that as something they want to pay attention to. Metro sections might go for it but it doesnít go beyond that. ... We do have issues with justice in foreign policy and so forth but one has to be able to put that forth in a responsible way. Where itís not inciting hate or creating division. A lot of Muslims are very reasonable but itís the irresponsible statements and emotional stuff that gets passed around and unfortunately thereís always been that. Itís going to be hard to really end it. ... You canít equate someone who wears traditional clothes with fundamentalist. Fundamentalism isnít militance. And militance isnít Al Qaeda. So you have so many degrees of separation between that perception of risk or danger and the actuality. I know there are some good people who are there, and theyíre ready, but they lack funding and they lack infrastructure. And again moderate Muslims might not be completely Westernized, they might not be completely uncritical of Israel, there might be things that people donít like about them. But as long as that can be accepted, because you see that theyíre basically invested in this country.

I love to see people joining community boards. You know because I used to direct a community board in Brooklyn. And itís just so grassroots, and I feel that would be a way in for people to feel connected and learn a few things.

I guess it depends on whether one is engaged in and oriented towards engagement with diversity. And there are some folks who I think are not, and I think after 9/11 for a while I saw a lot more interest among Muslim leadership in engagement. But some other things have pushed them back. It has been our tendency to practice very locally. Most peopleís affiliations are at their mosque and itís a comfort zone. Theyíre not necessarily activists, in a sense of social justice as are others. And thatís fine, we have different roles to play. But the leadership, to be leaders, hasnít always come forth. I think that I noticed in the last year more withdrawing again. I donít know what it is, itís just the steady pressure of the media. Which carries a lot of negativity. A lot of us are now thinking, jeez, to other people weíre just tainted.

You know that you need to think about youthÖ. I just came from a presentation on Darfur at the Muslim student center at NYU. And thereís some real leadership going on at that level. And that influences too, no doubt. But so mostly theyíre kids who not only do they know computers better than I ever will know, but they also know how things work in a much more sophisticated way than their elders. And so I think it will be very important to pay attention to young people. Not just in Muslim communities but in all these communities that are disconnected. And young Jewish kids, I have no idea where theyíre at in terms of that. I think their community seems very fearful, the synagogues have metal detectors and all this stuff.

Maybe itís my personality, maybe itís stuff I had to deal with from the civil liberties work, but Iím afraid of, if there was a disaster, the response of some of the authorities. Because thank God theyíre planning, but I just donít trust the bureaucracies out there to do the right thing and we all have some role in trying to create, some voice in that. But I still worry that police will overreact and various things will happen, and so thatís sort of with me. I feel that concern.

I do dread having to do this again. And it wouldnít be the same, but you know. Youíre talking about your downtown community, your downtown space, your buildings, your folks. And I can relate to that but I think itís also very special. Itís not the same as what weíre talking about, itís real, itís concrete. And so Iím just very moved by that, that youíre speaking about something so real. And I worked down on Broad Street at the moment and when I walk past the Stock Exchange I always think, well maybe it will blow up now, when Iím walking. But you know, we live with that dread and also that care, that care for where we live, itís the city where we are. So how do we deal with it, you know?

I donít know if Muslims have moved beyond reaction to something more conscious like reflection. But still I donít know if the community has quite come to terms, it is still reacting to Lebanon. I mean weíve all felt this support by fellow human beings and I am hearing more recognition of that. That we all are human and some of those conservative groups have started talking about universalism and the way that we are serving all of humanity. If we can get beyond the reaction and the feeling bad and victimized and all that, and yes we are being victimized, but if we can also be in a position where we feel strong and we feel self-respect and not internalizing peopleís bad opinions about us in ourselves. If I see someone whoís dressed conservatively and has a big bushy beard, I will react, and I have internalized some of that negative stuff. ... And I think dialogue helps, but getting funding and getting organized helps. And I think weíre in the right direction. But I hope in a year from now we will be doing the same stuff but somehow in a way that is more cohesive.





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Story Source: City Limits

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