Building Bridges Across a Diverse Community
By Milad Alucozai
Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religious leaders reflect on September 11th.
West Lafayette, IN â€“ On the tenth anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11th, 2011, Purdue University students, faculty, staff, and community members of all faiths and backgrounds came together in a memorial to the victims and a celebration of shared values and spirit.
The event was organized by Purdueâ€™s Student Government as well as interfaith religious leaders from across all major denominations. Muslim representative Aurangzeb spoke of the universal sanctity of human life and recognized the loss of innocent life on September 11th as well as in the subsequent terrorist attacks around the world in places like Madrid and Pakistan and in the armed conflicts resulting over the last ten years. â€œCrimes against humanity, no matter in what form they are committed, are to be condemned in the strictest terms,â€ he said, â€œIn the face of inhumanity, we must be more human.â€
Purdue University has the second largest population of international students among American public universities with just under 8,000 and has long been known for its exceptional diversity of students from all nations, cultures, and religions. Purdueâ€™s Dean of International Programs, Mike Brzezinski, honored this legacy by sharing his memories of the campusâ€™s reaction after September 11th. â€œSome [universities] were dealing with the desolation of mosques and religious housing but not at Purdue. Some were dealing with attacks on Muslim students, but not at Purdue,â€ said Brzezinski.
Since the awful attacks that brought so much pain to our hearts, heated rhetoric and acts of violence against Muslim Americans (and non-Muslim Arab Americans) have increased. Yet the victims, like the citizens of our nation, were of all faiths. Patriotic Muslim Americans were some of the innocent passengers on the planes, they were workers in the buildings, and they were heroic first responders who ran into the building when everybody else was running out.
We need to remember that Muslim Americans contribute to our communities every day. They serve us as police officers, doctors, and firefighters. They are public servants in local and state governments as well as in the federal government where they work tirelessly to guide our counter terrorist efforts. And there are thousands of young Muslim Americans serving overseas to protect the liberties that we all share.
The ceremony, held on the historic Purdue Mall, also included remarks by University President France Cordova, student body president Brett Highley, and students who lived in New York at the time of the attacks. Attendees gathered together holding firm the belief that every human life irrespective of the nationality, gender, color, language, or religion is sacred, united in their resolve to emerge from the tragedies of the September 11th era with greater faith, greater understanding, and greater humanity.