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Middle Eastern students grow up, adjust to life after 9/11

September 9, 2011
Sam Shawver ( , The Marietta Times

They were only 11 years old at the time but Marietta College juniors Abdullah AlMusharraf, Saleh AlShaiban and Mohammad AlGherairy will always remember watching the events of Sept. 11, 2001 unfold with their families in Saudi Arabia.

"It was midnight and we were watching the television-it was scary," AlGherairy, now 21, said.

AlShaiban, who is also 21, agreed.

"It was a shock-everybody was talking about how could this happen to such a powerful country," he said. "And before that day no one was talking a lot about terrorism."

Twenty-year-old AlMusharraf said the world turned a corner on Sept. 11.

"I thought, my God, what is happening?" he said. "Now I feel that was the start of this era of terrorism."

All three men eventually came to the U.S. to study petroleum engineering at Marietta College but getting here took some time.

"Before Sept. 11 you could go into the U.S. easy but after that it became difficult to get a visa to travel here," AlShaiban said.

"The embassy closed in my town and now it can take three to six months just to get an appointment, then it takes even more time to obtain a visa," AlGherairy added.

Traveling in the U.S. can also be difficult for them.

"When they see our Saudi passports, we're usually taken aside at the airport," AlMusharraf said. "But we've gotten used to it."

AlShaiban said he has little problem with such inconveniences while traveling.

"I think it's something that should be done," he said, noting that after Sept. 11 many people understand the heightened security is for everyone's safety.

All three students plan to attend Sept. 11 ceremonies scheduled over the weekend and have taken part in similar events in past years.

They say they're not bothered that their appearance may draw a few stares.

"When they ask where I'm from, it's a good chance to share my viewpoint with other people," AlShaiban said.

Lori Price, of Cutler, admits that when she sees someone of Middle Eastern descent, she now may take a second look.

"We should expect more scrutiny (of people from Middle Eastern nations)," she said. "Although I'm sure it's a very small percentage who would do us harm, it wasn't people from Norway who were bombing our buildings that day."

Carole Garrison, of Marietta, said one area where she thinks the U.S. has been too lax in the decade since 9/11 is in educating its people about the Muslim religion and Middle Eastern cultures, and not just the acts of extremists and terrorist.

"As a religion I respect the Muslim views on life," she said. "I think our country needs to do some homework and be more proactive in educating citizens about other cultures."

AlMusharraf said many things have changed in the last 10 years and some for the better.

"Sept. 11 changed the whole world but I also think the world is much closer now," he said.



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