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20 Years After 9/11, Journalist Noor Tagouri Is Deconstructing the Muslim American Story

Noor Tagouri is a lot of things: an award-winning journalist and producer; a lady of religion; a vogue icon. However on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, she spoke to me as herself, with all of the labels stripped away—a 27-year-old Muslim lady grieving for her neighborhood, pitted in opposition to itself by a hostile society, interpreted as a monolith in a method that robs its particular person members of their sense of personhood. She supplied uncooked reflections on why she’d determined to not submit about 9/11 on Instagram; the stress to be a, quote, unquote, “good Muslim” moderately than a “unhealthy” one; and her personal feeling of nebulousness, of struggling to parse who she actually is versus who she pretends to be for different folks.

Over the following few months, Tagouri—who has amassed a hefty following by means of her work as a journalist and activist—will seek for that very same vulnerability from others, amassing and modifying submissions for her as-yet-untitled documentary and podcast collection set to launch subsequent spring. It should showcase tales from individuals who have been impacted by inaccurate representations of Muslim and Arab communities—people who find themselves Muslim themselves, or these on the surface trying in. Her purpose is to interrogate the constraints, misunderstandings, joys, fears, and retailers that perpetuate, hinder, and inform this intersection of religion and identification.

It’s a pivotal mission for Tagouri. “I purposely averted telling tales about Muslims for thus lengthy as a result of I didn’t need to be typecast or pigeonholed,” she stated. “That is the primary time I’m truly telling a narrative round Muslims, as a result of I’m prepared.” Right here, she affords a glimpse inside her head following per week outlined by emotional gravity.

Self-importance Honest: I acknowledge that we’re talking on 9/11. How are you feeling?

Noor Tagouri: I’ve numerous emotions as we speak. I’m simply now realizing, and it’s hitting me so exhausting, that…our entire childhood till now has type of been formed by this second in time. [I was] on FaceTime with my outdated brother—he’s been on this intense 9/11 kick, watching each documentary and tv present. It began from his curiosity [around] why he needed to take his sneakers off on the airport; why he needed to [dump] water on the airport, particularly as a result of losing food and drinks in our religion is such an enormous factor. It wasn’t like we had been all speaking about it at house on a regular basis. There was no distinction, at the least in my recollection, between how we spoke in our family earlier than and after [9/11]—aside from the truth that there was all the time this nervousness that you just had been being watched and surveilled. And also you by no means wished folks to understand you the fallacious method. One of many issues [my brother] stated was, “I simply need folks to know we’re not all like that.” It hurts my coronary heart that he has to consider it. It’s actually, actually, actually exhausting.

How do you are feeling you’ve needed to navigate the world post-9/11?

I acquired a textual content message from my good friend saying, “I used to be considering of you once I was writing an Instagram submit. I believed to myself, Wow, this is perhaps perceived as unhealthy Muslim habits. So I deleted it.” We have now lived our lives continuously making an attempt to regulate how we’re being perceived as a result of that’s the one method we really feel protected. And that’s a scary place to be.

There’s this wonderful documentary known as The Feeling of Being Watched. This lady mainly paperwork the surveillance occurring inside her personal neighborhood. There’s one factor she talked about that basically caught with me: Lots of Muslim American communities skilled surveillance—undercover Feds had been coming into the mosque and constructing belief and relationships. However the state doesn’t need to surveil anyone anymore as a result of we already act as if that’s occurring. We damage ourselves, police one another; we don’t help one another. We have now this hostility due to this factor that occurred that set us up for failure. We’re all the time requested, “How did this enormous world factor affect your life?” And I’m like, you guys are considering too huge. Essentially the most monumental a part of this expertise is that we’re nonetheless determining who we’re.

Noor Tagouri as a toddler in her household house. Courtesy of Noor Tagouri.

You haven’t been given the house to try this.

My brother is saying, “I hope they don’t suppose that we’re all like this,” and I’m like, you’re an American child who’s rising up carrying the burden of one thing that was written for you earlier than you had been born. In an effort to shield ourselves from our personal neighborhood—and people who find themselves not conversant in our neighborhood—we continuously shapeshift into what we predict they need us to be. That’s why I really feel prepared to do that mission. We owe it to ourselves to grasp why we really feel the best way that we do, [because] we’ve been in survival mode for thus lengthy.

https://www.vanityfair.com/information/2021/09/journalist-noor-tagouri-is-deconstructing-the-muslim-american-story | 20 Years After 9/11, Journalist Noor Tagouri Is Deconstructing the Muslim American Story

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