Guests in Christian Muslim Interactions class reflect on impact of 9/11

by Taylor Isenberg
News and Opinion Editor

“Telling Americans to forget about 9/11 is like telling teenagers to forget about sex,” said Dr. Keith Huey, professor of church history and theology, to his Christian and Muslim Interactions class on Sept. 11.

In honor of the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that shook the nation, Huey invited two individuals from the Muslim community to share their stories of what happened on the days following the attacks of Sept 11, 2001.

Yildiz remembers confusing feelings

 hakan yildiz

hakan yildiz

Dr. Hakan Yildiz, professor of global supply chain management at Wayne State University and an immigrant from Turkey, had lived in the United States for only one month when the attacks occurred.

“Upon hearing that Islamic extremists did this, as a practicing Muslim of the same faith, I felt guilty, ashamed and confused,” Yildiz said.

Those feelings continued when agents from Homeland Security paid his college apartment a visit about a year later. “They told us, ‘You better be watching what websites you’re searching and what you’re doing.’ ” As security methods continued to increase, it took Yildiz months to renew his student visa, making it harder for him to return to the U.S. to finish his studies.

 patrick cates

patrick cates

Cates investigates & converts

The second guest speaker, Patrick Cates, converted to Islam following the attacks. In the aftermath of 9/11, Cates found himself being curious about the Islamic faith and decided to start a conversation over coffee with two of his classmates who practiced Islam. This conversation continued over the next six months. Cates said he admired the convictions and lifestyles of his friends, and “after interrogating my classmates and doing intensive research on Islam, I embraced the faith in March of 2002.”

Police guard family home

 Saeed kahn

Saeed kahn

Dr. Saeed Kahn, a global studies professor at Wayne State University, co-teaches the Christian Muslim Interactions class with Huey every fall. Kahn, whose family is from Lapeer, Michigan, shared their experiences following the attacks. “My father is very popular as he is the town doctor. He was head of medicine for the county prison and he knew most of the police officers,” he said.

Kahn recalled that on the evening of the attacks, the local police guarded the family home in case of backlash from the community. “They sat out in the squad car the entire night to ensure my family’s safety.

Remembering 9/11 every year

Remembering 9/11 is a major component of the class every September. Huey said he wants to “build something meaningful out of this day and its remembrance.”

Through conversations such as these, students and faculty are able to gain more insight on the 9/11 attacks and how they have impacted various communities and people. Gaining a better understanding of the attacks from a non-Christian perspective helps the Rochester College community become more informed global citizens, Huey said

The three-credit hour Christian Muslim Interactions class is offered every fall and is geared toward open discussion on the Islamic and Christian faith, comparing and contrasting both religions through class discussion and assignments.