By Zahra Farah
One of my first assignments in Washington was covering a 9/11 rally, where a group of motorcyclists with “2 Million Bikers to DC” was counter protesting a march held by the American Muslim Political Action Committee.
Protesters with “The Million American March Against Fear” were marching against what they said was the U.S. government’s inability to protect constitutional liberties after 9/11. Bikers who were interviewed thought it was distasteful and disrespectful to march on the Sept. 11 anniversary.
Others, at the Capitol, were on a Muslim witch-hunt.
The Metropolitan Police Department set up a blockade between the two groups, so no one would attack each other.
Some men and women from the bikers’ group yelled to the Muslim group that it was “their God that brought down the World Trade Center.” I saw signs, in red marker that crossed out the words Allah, Muslims and Islam.
I talked to a man who was sickened by the thought of Muslims.
Little did he know, he was being interviewed by one.
Growing up as a Muslim woman, I had heard enough terrorist jokes to honestly fill a textbook.
However, I had never met anyone who had so much hate for my religion. I think if I were wearing the traditional Muslim head scarf, a hijab, I would have probably been attacked.
Multiple people came up to another reporter and me and asked if we’ve seen “any Muslims.” It didn’t register, until after the rally, they were talking about me but didn’t know it.
In the mist of chaos, I wasn’t scared. I felt nothing.
I think the reason their comments didn’t anger me was because I had an assignment to complete.
My job, as a reporter, is to attempt to remain unbiased despite any internal conflicts I might have about the people I am reporting on.
It was hard, but if I hadn’t controlled my emotions, I doubt anyone would have talked to me.
In the end, I hope readers got an idea of what was going on at the rally. I tried to keep an open mind to people who otherwise hated me.