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10. September 2013

9-11 Talat Hamdani

9-11 Phyllis Rodriguez

9-11 Aicha El-Wafi

9-11 Women Refuse to Hate

12 Voices for 12 Years

Moving from victimhood to agency

To commemorate the 12th anniversary of 9/11, SAVE is sharing the voices of 12 women affected by the attacks that occurred in New York City that day. We’ve included our film ‘9/11: We Refuse to Hate’, first published on International Women’s Day 2013, along with the stories of Talat Hamdani, Phyllis Rodriguez, and Aichia El-Wafi.

On this day we highlight the resilience and determination of women who lost loved ones in the attacks and shared their stories of how they rebuilt their lives. Their message is clear:

"We are women of one fabric, and we must stand together, united, to make this a more peaceful world for all. Terrorists around the world forge a contract with death. We embrace life. Our loss should never be your loss."

“I am Talat Hamdani and I lost my son, 23 year-old Salman Hamdani in the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. He was one of 59 Muslims who died on 9/11. I spoke out from day 1, because I had to be my son’s voice. The most important factor for me in mourning is that his legacy is kept alive. To face the emotional trauma and the anger I had to make a conscious decision. That is why I have been speaking up.

I consider myself a survivor. The grieving is not going to end, and the pain of losing a child will only die with me. The reason that I don’t advocate revenge or vendetta is because I know how deeply it hurts, what a huge loss it is. The only alternative is to have a positive and productive focus with a goal for justice and peace and healing. It’s been a long road, 12 years, more than a whole decade since then and there is still a lot of work to be done.’’

“I am Phyllis Rodriguez and I lost my son Greg as he sat in his office in the World Trade Center on 9/11-2001. My husband, my family and I were devastated by the loss of our son.

Under the credo "Not in my son's name" I published a letter asking that no political revenge would be taken in the name of my son. When Greg was killed I thought I would never forgive the people, who murdered my son, but I have come to see forgiveness as more than a word; it’s a context, a process. Being able to reach out to others has helped me heal. It has kept me from becoming bitter.

Since the tragedy, I have learned about many, many people all over the world who have bridged the gap between themselves and the person or people who are considered "the other", or "the enemy". We need to learn from each other to strengthen our bonds.”

“My name is Aicha El-Wafi. I’m the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only one to be tried in connection with 9/11. In 1990 he left for London, to practice and perfect his English. That’s where he met the extremists.

Truly it hurt me very much when my sons tell me that me, who worked for them; me who held them while they slept; me, who kissed them while they slept; me, who got up in the night to check that they were still covered when it was cold; me, who feared for them; me, who did everything for them; that they say to me – because they’re 1.80 metres tall – they say, ‘You don’t understand anything’. ‘You’re just a woman.’ Me, a woman? Me, who brought you into this world; me, who raised you; me, who feared for you. I’m not worth anything? Why aren’t I worth anything? I brought you in into this world and I won’t accept it.

Strangers come and give orders to my son not to respect me? What’s that about? I hate them, because they don’t love Islam.

Women without Borders/SAVE organized a workshop in Irvington, New York, where 15 women, who lost loved ones in the attacks shared their stories of how they rebuilt their lives. And, beyond that, they strategized how each one of them can contribute to a new culture of reconciliation and trust building on a global level.


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