Listen to these personal stories ...
Ben Litwack
Calvin Butner
Edward Morad
Violet Phillips
Monique Champagne
Michael Breen
Ben Litwack
Calvin Butner
Edward Morad
Violet Phillips
Monique Champagne
Michael Breen
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We Remember
 
Honored Dead: Victims of 9/11
 
Moments of remembrance on the South Shore and beyond
 
Stories of survival, heroics
 
Taunton man remembers the last day with his wife
 
Have things changed?
 
How attacks affected kids, and how are they now
 
Nationally
 
Brockton native decided how much to give 9/11 families
 
Graphic: Sequence of 9/11 events
Audio interviews and editing for this series were conducted by Cory Hopkins, Diana Schoberg, Ryan Menard, John Kelly, Andrew Lightman and Ken Johnson from The Patriot Ledger, and by Jean Porrazzo, Elaine Allegrini and Craig Murray from The Enterprise.
Site Design: Stephen Ide

 

Salim Marhamo, a Muslim who owns International Food Co. in Quincy, says he’s experienced no harassment. His daughter, Jenna, 3, plays in the store.

‘You don’t appreciate this
country until you leave it’

N. Abouzeid, 54, of Weymouth, immigrated to this country from Lebanon 38 years ago.
Click to listen

“Why did it happen? Especially to us, you know?

“I don’t know if you’ve been outside the country, but I mean, this is heaven on earth. You don’t even appreciate this country until you leave it for a while.”

 

A mix of security, suspicion

Some Muslims say worries of 9/11 have faded; others still see bad signs

GREG DERR photos/The Patriot Ledger
Salim Marhamo, a Muslim who owns International Food Co. in Quincy, says he’s experienced no harassment. His daughter, Jenna, 3, plays in the store.


The Patriot Ledger

The first few days after Sept. 11, 2001 were doubly traumatic for Salim Marhamo.

Like everyone he knew, the Quincy shop owner and Lebanon native was distressed at the terrorist attacks by the “sick people” who hijacked the airplanes - and as a Muslim, he also found himself scared for what might happen to his family.

“For three or four days we didn’t leave the house,” Marhamo said this week, as he waited on customers at his Quincy International Food store. “We thought someone might come and take revenge.”

A rash of South Shore incidents appeared to confirm his fears. An Arab-owned pizza parlor in Plymouth was torched. Two Middle Eastern shops in Quincy were vandalized. The Islamic Center of New England got a couple of threatening phone calls.

Five years later, Marhamo and some of his fellow local Muslims say those initial worries have faded. “No harassment,” Marhamo says. But others say American Muslims still live under a cloud of suspicion.

For Jamina Hassan of Canton, the reminder comes when she’s routinely pulled out of airport boarding lines for a security check, even though she’s well identified as a registered nurse and American citizen.

“It’s not right,” she said. “But it happens.”

Dr. Saeed Shazad of Randolph gets the same frustration when his daughter, a Northeastern University student, is checked because she’s the only person who’s wearing a hijab, the traditional Muslim head scarf.

Salim Marhamo, a native of Lebanon who owns the International Food store in Quincy Point, has lived in the United States for 18 years. After Sept. 11, “For 3 or 4 days we didn’t leave the house,” he says.

Like many fellow Muslims, he’s quit sending donations to his favorite Muslim charities - the U.S. government has shut some of them down for allegedly funneling money to Hamas and other militant groups.

“We have to struggle for many things which other Americans don’t have to face,” said Shazad, a Pakistan native who’s also a naturalized citizen.

He and Hassan say such incidents are a regular topic of conversation these days at the Islamic Center of New England in Quincy and Sharon, and at mosques in Boston, where Hassan now worships.

“A lot of people, especially younger Muslim men, do feel like they’re still under watch ... like they don’t belong,” she said.

Shazad had his own brush with that feeling five years ago.

A week after he helped treat 9/11 survivors and firefighters at St. Vincent Hospital in New York City, where he lived at the time, he was harassed by a non-Muslim passenger at the end of a bus trip he took from New York to Boston.

Apparently angered by hearing Shazad give family members the traditional Muslim greeting, “Asalaam alekum” (peace to you), on his cell phone, he hit the back of Shazad’s head and said, “Terrorist!”

“I was stunned,” Shazad said. He didn’t tell his family about the incident.

Shazad hasn’t had any similar encounters since then - nor has the Islamic Center gotten any other crank calls. Shazad says the Quincy and Sharon mosques have maintained the harmonious community relations they had established before 9/11.

In 2003 someone set a small fire outside a door at the Quincy mosque, but police never determined whether the incident was a hate crime or simple vandalism, and no one was ever arrested.

As the “war on terror” continues and fighting in Iraq grinds on, Salim Marhamo and others say Muslims are still trying to come to grips with the varied aftershocks of 9/11.

“It’s a new subject,” Marhamo said. “Every day, you learn more and more how to deal with it.”

Imam Talal Eid of Quincy is among those who are confronting 9/11 with fresh resolve.

Long before the attacks, the Islamic Center’s former spiritual leader was one of New England’s leading voices for interfaith understanding. Now he says he was “in a state of denial” for years about the religious and political impact of 9/11 - for Muslims as well as for the U.S.

“I didn’t want to watch it on TV,” said Imam Eid, a Lebanon native who’s lived here for 20 years. “ It was nothing but pain.”

Imam Eid now thinks Muslims in the U.S. and overseas haven’t spoken or acted forcefully enough against extremists and their apologists.

“We need to do all we can to build trust with our fellow citizens,” he said. But like his fellow believers, he too wonders how much of such efforts would be enough.

“If things are quiet, it’s OK,” he said of relations with non-Muslims. “But if something else happens, like in London - people will talk again.”

Lane Lambert may be reached at llambert@ledger.com.

Religious fervor that flowed after terrorist attacks quickly faded


ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER

Five years ago Monday, Holy Family Church in East Taunton became a local “ground zero” for mourning.

The Rev. Francis Grogan

Three people who died when planes from Boston struck the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, had ties to the parish.

The Rev. Francis E. Grogan, 76, of North Easton, had served Mass at Holy Family only the Friday before, after helping out at the church for the previous year.

Peter A. Gay
Peter A. Gay

Peter A. Gay, 54, of Tewksbury, who was traveling on business, was the brother of David T. Gay, who with his wife, Patricia, was then a Holy Family parishioner.

Neilie Anne Casey, 32, of Wellesley, also traveling for work, was the daughter-in-law of William and Mary Jane Casey, who also attended Holy Family.

All three perished on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It clearly touched our parish in a particular way,” said the pastor, the Rev. Jay T. Maddock.

Across the region, even people who didn’t lose loved ones felt the effects of Sept. 11 keenly. Churches and synagogues filled with people for special services that week and on Sunday. Record church attendance was reported throughout the country.

The spiritual fervor quickly faded, however. For the most part, for most people, life has returned to normal, religious leaders say.

“Time tends to heal, and since we haven’t had any other catastrophic events similar to 9/11 in this country, people become quite used to it,” said Rabbi H. David Werb of Temple Beth Emunah in Brockton.

The same thing happened nationally, experts say.

A recent study by the Barna Group of Ventura, Calif., a Christian religions pollster, showed that there was an intense surge in religious activity and expression in the weeks immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, but today the faith of Americans is “virtually indistinguishable” compared to before then.

“In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, half of all Americans said their faith helped them cope with the shock and uncertainty,” the Barna Group said about the study, released on Aug. 28.

“The change most widely reported was a significant spike in church attendance, with some churches experiencing more than double their normal crowd on the Sunday after the shocking event. However, by the time January 2002 rolled around, churchgoing was back to pre-attack levels, and has remained consistent in the five years since,” the research group said.

Worship attendance has dropped since immediate post-9/11 levels among those of other faiths as well.

“Certainly, the crowds that came at the first and second anniversaries have lessened markedly,” said Werb, of Temple Beth Emunah in Brockton. “There are definitely less people attending, though there are some people who specifically come for that purpose.”

The temple, which held special morning services on the first and second anniversaries of the terrorist attacks, will include prayers this year during the regular service at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

The Rev. Mark T. Pattie, pastor of Covenant Congregational Church in Easton, remembers that his church hosted a community-wide, inter-faith service on Sept. 11, 2001, and again a year later.

This year, local churches discussed a similar commemoration, but opted instead to mark the day in their own ways.

“You get back into a routine,” Pattie said. “Not that people are bad or that they really didn’t mean it back then, but the demands and routines of life get us back to ways that are easier for us.”

Maddock said Holy Family’s population has increased from 1,100 families to about 1,500 in nine years, but he attributes that to the growing population in East Taunton, not necessarily an increased interest in religion.

At 8 a.m. Monday, Holy Family will offer a Mass in memory of Father Grogan. Among the parishioners planning to attend is John J. LePage, a 70-year-old accountant from Taunton.

LePage remembered his reaction to the terrorist attacks five years ago.

“I felt startled, of course, and actually kind of ashamed, in the sense that all the people of the world haven’t learned to love one another in the way God has loved them, Christian or Muslim,” he said. “That’s what people need to learn: to love, and to live with the virtue of hope that things are going to get better. That’s what God is really all about.”

Vicki-Ann Downing can be reached at vdowning@enterprisenews.com.