9/11 Prayer Rug?

During the past year of travels throughout the Middle East and North Africa I have rarely seen or felt any sort of threat, whether personal or against Americans in general.  There have been, of course, moments of ‘mistranslation’ or of misunderstanding.  Those are the things I try to point out in this blog.  Not only the incorrect application of American terms and customs and norms, but also the reverse.

Prayer rug found in the souq near Ankara's main fortress.

This particular snapshot, though, which I took when my family sat for a lovely late afternoon meal in a cafe near the old fortress hill in Ankara, Turkey, gave me the willies.  It’s exactly the type of thing that most Americans fear they might see and, because of that fear, probably interpret in the wrong way.  Certainly my first thoughts on seeing this rug were that someone intended it as a celebration of the 9/11 attacks.  But, on closer inspection, it doesn’t seem to be a celebration at all.  Yet it doesn’t quite make sense.  Who would buy something like this?

In the end, I think its just prominently Not Quite Right.


7 responses to “9/11 Prayer Rug?

  • Alex

    I’m looking at this rug trying to make sense of it, it is so crazy, who would want to pray on that thing?? On closer inspection it does have the peace dove between the US and Afghanistan flag… it’s just all in bad taste really no matter which way you look at it.

  • Bev Jackson

    Ben, what else could it be? What’s your take? Or are you being diplomatic?


  • Rich

    I can see an American Muslim, one who has spent time in america and understands it better, yet remains of the Muslim faith, and wishes for better understanding between the two, buying it.

    What is the symbol on the red block behind the peace dove?

  • guitta

    I don’t like the whole idea of that rug….it just doesn’t seem right….

  • Jim Draeger

    These are very common rugs that are sold to American tourists. They are primarily marketed to soldiers serving in Afganistan. It is a “never forget” image of the twin towers. If you look closely, the American flag and the Afgani flag joined by a peace dove. The image at the bottom is an American aircraft carrier.

    This was never intended to be a prayer rug.

  • Benjamin Buchholz

    Yeah, I agree with you Jim. I regretted labeling it a prayer rug at all, because on closer inspection it isn’t. But that was my first thought. The peace-dove makes it into a definite ‘never forget’ object. I still don’t like the rather graphic images of the planes headed toward the towers, though. Still gives me the shivers!

  • Jim Draeger


    It gives me the shivers too. I collect this style of rug, which are typically referred to as pictorial rugs, although this might be classed as a war rug, a subtype. I have never been tempted to buy one of these because it is too graphic for me. Here is a website with more context on this type of rug http://www.warrug.com/

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