Woman Remembers Trying To Understand Attacks

On Sept. 11, 2001, Laila Alawa was at home with her family in upstate New York. Alawa, who is Muslim, was 10 years old at the time. Now, at 20, she reflects on that day — and how it changed her life.

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GUY RAZ, Host:

Throughout the program today, we'll hear voices of people reflecting on 9/11.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RAZ: We'll start with Laila Alawa. She was born in Denmark. On September 11, 2001, she was just 10 years old.

LAILA ALAWA: We lived in a small town in upstate New York. And when I first heard it and I turned on the TV, I didn't understand what was going on. I had actually visited the World Trade Center a couple years before, and I'd gone all the way to the top. And so, I couldn't comprehend that someone would actually do that. And I guess that was a moment that I truly felt American.

But I just remember, like, in the weeks afterwards when they came out with the information that the perpetrator behind the attacks, Osama bin Laden, when they said he was a Muslim, I went into shock because, you know, I am Muslim, so I didn't know how to put the two together. That someone who says they're Muslim is hurting people who are American. And I think my whole family, we were kind of just trying to understand that, both on the day of and in the weeks that followed.

RAZ: Laila Alawa. She now lives in New Hampshire. You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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