I can't pretend to speak for all the Saudis here in this country, but I can tell you what I have been told by the few Saudis I have spoken to about what happened on September 11th eight years ago. It is a sad day for them here too. They were horrified when it happened and even more so when it became known that most of the perpetrators were from Saudi Arabia. It frightens them to think that their own children could grow up and be capable of carrying out such hateful missions against innocent people. There are even moderate camps now for families to learn how to recognize and discourage radical ideas and behavior in their children. However, I have spoken to some Saudis who are convinced that the whole truth isn't out there - that the 9/11 findings were a conspiracy, that some of the alleged hijackers are still alive and were used as scapegoats. Yes, there are Saudis who are in denial about the 9/11 theories and believe that others were responsible and that the finger was pointed at Saudis as a US government cover-up or some such logic.
They may not always agree with American foreign policy, but they don't think that America was deserving of what happened on 9/11 either. The typical Saudi loves Americans and American culture. They love to travel to the US and enjoy doing things there that are not available here. Saudis love products that come from America, fashions, ideas, cars, television shows and movies, technology. Saudi women love Oprah! However, this love for American ways and products was one of the reasons why the small faction of radical fundamentalists feared these changes they saw in their own people and culture. They don't want change to come to Saudi Arabia. They want to keep women sheltered, barefoot and pregnant at home. And they always disguise their reasoning as religious somehow, and we all know how strong the religion is here.
I have always been treated very well here in Saudi Arabia. When we first arrived, my husband wasn't sure of the climate towards Americans - he had been gone for thirty years. He even went so far as to tell me that if I were asked where I was from, to say that I was Canadian, just to be safe. I did that a few times, and I just didn't feel right about it, and I told him so. So I started telling the truth. "I am American. Ana Amreeki," I would say in Arabic. And the Saudis would smile warmly and tell me how they've been to New York or California or Florida and what a wonderful time they had, and how beautiful they think America is, and that they want to go back again someday. Hubby saw the positive reactions from his fellow countrymen upon learning I am American and he was relieved.
This is my second year to spend 9/11 here in Saudi Arabia. The memories of what my family went through in Florida during the aftermath of 9/11 still haunt me and I'm sure always will. I must admit it feels a little wierd for me to be here amongst the very people who were accused and blamed for 9/11, but am I afraid? No. And as Ramadan rounds its final stretch here in the Magic Kingdom, the serene peace in the hearts of the countrymen here is palpable. I feel safe here. I feel welcome here. And I feel loved here.
To read a little more about what my family experienced after 9/11, please see my prior post that I wrote about it.