Allegations and predictions are flying in the ever-reliable media that a Saudi Muslim has been questioned for potential involvement in the Boston marathon bombings on Monday. Though law enforcement has since said this person is only being questioned as a witness, contributors and pundits alike suspected the involvement of a foreign terrorist group in the attack, while some have cautioned against labeling any group or person until a full investigation has revealed all the facts.
Lets assume for a moment that bigots like Erik Rush are right and a Muslim is at the helm of this tragedy. Should we "kill them all," as he so irresponsibly tweeted in the aftermath of the Boston tragedy? An overwhelming majority of Americans would dismiss this man as delusional, an attention seeking lunatic. American Muslim organizations and prominent individuals have come out openly against the bombings, declaring it an act way outside the realm of what is acceptable in Islam.
Nevertheless, a backlash of some sorts would be imminent.
After September 11, and other minor terror plots conjured up by Muslim fringe individuals or groups, the scrutiny of Americans and non-American Muslims in non-Muslim countries should not come as a surprise response. Yet one would only hope that better sense would prevail, and that Muslims, and especially American Muslims, are not forced to defend their faiths once again, further exhausting them to repeatedly convince others that a fringe entity does not speak on their behest.
Attention towards Islam has significantly been on the rise ever since the twin towers fell on that unfortunate morning of September 11, 2001. All of a sudden, many were left perplexed as to what this supposedly 'primitive' religion, Islam, was, and under whose guise this colossal attack had been justified.
Islamophobic behaviour and crimes were reported throughout the country. Muslim communities were left to feel anxious as their identity was being questioned. In 2001, incidents of hate crimes increased a staggering 1600%. The number of incidences increased from 28 to 481, according to FBI reports. This trend, while decreasing in intensity has lingered over the past decade.
Last year, Sunando Sen, a Hindu resident of New York, was pushed onto a train track by a woman who claims to have fostered an extreme level of anti-Muslim bias. Upon her arrest she said, "I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I've been beating them up." In 2010, Islamophobia was in full force as renowned hate mongers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer began an anti-Muslim campaign against the planned Muslim Community Center in New York. The Park 51 community center had made headlines around the world and had polarized American society.
Terror attacks linked to Muslim individuals or groups in the past have been widely condemned by American as well as non-American Muslims around the world. In a Gallup poll, over 93% of Muslims expressed sorrow and regret at the incident. In America, two well know grassroots Muslim organizations, the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), expressed solidarity and demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice.
In their press release, CAIR said in the aftermath of 9/11 "We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts." MPAC released a similar statement asserting that "We feel that our country, the United States, is under attack. All Americans should stand together to bring the perpetrators to justice ... We offer our resources and resolve to help the victims of these intolerable acts, and we pray to God to protect and bless America."
My intention is not to suggest here that Muslims had a hand in this incident. Beyond speculation, little can be determined. I have tasked myself here to analyze a potential scenario and its possible consequences for American Muslims who already face an uphill task to remind fellow American that their Islamic identities do not reflect those of deluded fringe, far from it. They are united in their condemnation of these heinous acts and those before it. Senseless victimization will only alienate them further; a prospect one would hope does not come to surface.