This is a strange week. I was a Boston Marathon runner on Monday who ran for charity representing the American Liver Foundation. Even though I knew this tragedy wasn't all over after the bombs went off, I definitely didn't expect to wake up Friday morning and be told the entire city was on lockdown. I feel like I'm in a Batman movie. I live a block and a half away from the suspects' home, and I will probably be hearing the controlled explosion in that building. I've been watching high-tech police vehicles that I didn't know exist, military humvees, and black hawk helicopters all morning.
The interesting part of all of this is that I'm a Pakistani-American Muslim. I was born and raised here -- I did my Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Boston University. I was raised in the NY and NJ area, my parents were almost on the trains for the 9/11 attacks, and thankfully was not physically injured in the Marathon bombings. I consider myself very intimately affected by these two terrorist attacks on this country. I wasn't called a suspect in any way. Yet most Muslim men present during a terrorist act are often immediately identified as such. The first thought that crossed my mind when all of this happened was, "I hope that the perpetrators are not Muslim. I hope the perpetrators are not Muslim. I hope the perpetrators are not Muslim. Please don't let them be Muslim." In some ways, I feel guilty about this thought, because here I was worrying more about my image than about those physically and emotionally impacted. But now that the suspects have been identified as Muslims, it's a nightmare come true. All of the stereotypes about our religion have been substantiated by the actions of a few deranged individuals, and the aftermath of this Muslim identification will be no exception.
The post 9/11 discrimination against Muslims has already started again, and it will only get worse. The only way that we as a country will be able to get over this is by standing together. We are all American. We all stand against terrorism. This is the country that we live in, and that we love. Here's to hoping for a truly United States of America.