Small-town Values, Big City Heart

November 11, 2006

Author: Sandy Naiman

Source: Toronto Sun

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Azhar Qureshi and his wife sat in the Credit Valley Hospital waiting room, their daughter in surgery, watching as the World Trade Center was hit.

"I remember the shock and thinking to myself, 'Don't let it be a Muslim name,'" the 45-year-old information technologist said.

When it was, he saw an all-too-familiar look in the eyes of the people sitting around him and suddenly he knew "it was starting all over again," he said.

From the age of 10, Pakistani-born Qureshi grew up in Lindsay, "the first brown kid" at a time when the term "Paki" entered the vernacular.

It was the 1970s, and as an only child he had to endure the inevitable name-calling, bullying and beatings kids often inflict on those visibly different.