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Asad Rahim (a pseudonym) is a university student. His parents are from Pakistan and he was born in Oklahoma.

When asked how things have changed for him since 9/11 he says:

“I have no basis for it but I have this paranoia where I very consciously watch my language in emails because I don’t want to carelessly use a red-flag word. It has crossed my mind not to associate with Muslim organizations or not to visit mosques. If you go to a mosque that some random crazy fool visited, you are then also associated or affiliated with that guy. For instance, you have a big mosque in Roxbury. You don’t know who is going there. I don’t want to contribute money to the mosque for that reason either. Also, when some incident happens in Pakistan or with some Muslim, I definitely get more looks in the subway. They associate my facial hair with being Muslim.”

9/11 has also changed how he feels at airports. “Now I go with some preparation. I always wear sandals because of the shoe bomber incident. I wear my Harvard sweatshirt to show I am educated. I go in trying to look as clean cut and engaged with the world as possible. I try to make sure they know I am not a foreigner but was raised here.”

One time he was cleared for security, but when he got to the American Airlines flight gate, he was told that he had to go through security. He told the agent, “I just went through security, otherwise I couldn’t get here.” She told him he had to go back and go through extra security since his ticket had the SSSS mark. 

“The officer opened my bag, and took his sweet time going through the stuff without ever talking to me. I was so worried that I would miss my flight but he didn’t seem to care about that at all.”

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.