WHAT if the Boston Marathon bomber is Muslim?
That is the question many of the more than 7 million American Muslims, myself included, asked ourselves after our nation learned about a double-bombing at the Boston Marathon, killing at least three people and injuring 170 more.
Whenever our country faces a massacre on our soil, the first thought most Muslims around the country think is this:
“Please, God, don’t let it be a Muslim.”
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I remember feeling that way during the December Newtown, Conn., mass-school shooting and the July massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.
During the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, I received phone calls from some media outlets asking if I had any comment after it was a reported that the suspect was an Asian male. They had already assumed that it was going to be a Muslim. (The killer turned out to be a Korean American.) In all three cases above, the perpetrators of these acts of domestic terrorism were non-Muslim males.
People seem to forget that before Sept. 11, the worst terrorist attack to ever occur on American soil was when a white man named Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people.
There is a double standard when it comes to American Muslims and acts of terrorism
in the United States.
If the Boston Marathon bomber turns out to be a Muslim, we will witness the repeat of history. First, every major American Muslim organization will rightfully issue public statements, if they have not already done so, condemning the terrorist attacks.
Right-wingers will take to the airwaves and blogosphere, talking about how Muslims never condemn terrorism and how this is just another sign of the impending Islamic Sharia takeover of America.
We will probably then see another uptick in anti-Muslim hate crimes, which will probably result in drive-by shootings at mosques and brown cabbies getting attacked, which happened after other terrorism attacks.
I could go on.
Now, if the Boston Marathon bomber is not a Muslim, we will probably see a wholly different response. First, these same right-wingers who would shout “terrorism” from the rooftops if the bomber was a Muslim will likely avoid using the T-word. They will characterize this non-Muslim terrorist as a crazy kooky loner whose undiagnosed mental-health issues probably led to the attacks.
Let us imagine for a moment that a brown Arab Muslim male tried to assassinate a sitting member of Congress by shooting her in the head, killing six innocent people and wounding 13 others outside an Arizona grocery store. Would we have any trouble calling this scenario an act of terrorism?
But since the terrorist who tried to assassinate former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was a white dude named Jared Lee Loughner,
he was just a kooky loner, whose mental illness must have triggered his act of terrorism.
If he was a Muslim dude named Muhammad Ali Khan, nobody in America would have cared about his mental-health issues. Because in America, many clearly believe that only brown Arab, South Asian or Muslim dudes can commit acts of terrorism.
The Boston Marathon bombing was an act of terrorism, regardless of whether it was committed by a brown Muslim man or a white Christian one.
Arsalan Iftikhar is founder of TheMuslimGuy.com, senior editor for The Islamic Monthly magazine and author of the book “Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era.”