My last week in Rabat was an interesting one. My host father's identical twin nephews came to stay with us. They were both studying in London, so they were more than happy to speak English with me. One of the twins was very easy-going and soft-spoken, but the other one was more direct. We spoke a lot about Muslim culture, and the more direct twin told me about times he felt religious persecution while growing up in France and studying in England.
I walked with my host dad to the spice market the day before I left to buy some things for my mom. On the way over, my host dad discussed the twins. He was worried about one of them, the more outspoken one, because he feared the twin was over-personalizing his religious persecution. Two IDENTICAL men with the same upbringing endured the same hatred. One decided to leave the experience with love, the other with hate.
My host dad and I spoke a lot about religion this summer, but our most profound conversation was the last one. He explained to me that there is a growing generation of Muslims in Europe and America and, in his opinion, they don't understand what it means to be "Muslim." They have become so over-defensive about their religion that the only option is radicalization. My host dad, a devout Muslim and one of the smartest men I ever met, was ashamed of this generation. The next day I arrived in the United States.
As a Jew, I admittedly don't know what it means to be a Muslim. But I sympathized, with my host father and the twin. Both men were suffering because of attacks on their religion. I learned a lot this summer, but this lesson is one that followed me home.