02/25/2015 02:45 pm ET Updated Feb 25, 2015

How 'Serial' Helped Humanize Muslims For A Mass Audience


I was worried about Serial. Even before I knew it would be a series, I was worried that the same anti-Muslim bigotry that had colored this murder case fifteen years ago would again be front and center when the world considered the State vs. Adnan Syed.

In 1999 Adnan, the subject of Serial, was arrested for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. A 17-year-old American boy of Pakistani descent, Adnan was my younger brother’s best friend. Adnan also came from a close-knit Muslim community in Baltimore, and a deeply faithful family.

Adnan was a typical teenager. He was Homecoming King, a football and track athlete, and an honor roll student. And he was also dating, smoking weed, drinking, and hiding things from his parents. He lived the life the children of many immigrant and religious families often do. He was not a devout, observant Muslim as a teenager (how many teenagers are that deeply religious?), and he had last visited Pakistan as a ten year old. He could barely speak Pashto, the language of his parents

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