Being Muslim in a Mad, Sad World


Since I began working as an editor in The Post's foreign section a year ago, I have come into the office every day hoping only one thing: Please do not let there be another story about a bloody attack perpetrated by extremist Muslims. Not in Iraq, Britain, Egypt, not anywhere. I'm often disappointed. Raised in the United States, I have felt fear in my heart as an American treading the vicious new world we all inhabit in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. As the daughter of Pakistani-Muslim parents, I have ached at seeing an entire faith -- my faith -- often vilified because of the actions of a few. The recent bombings in London and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, came as punishing one-two blows to me, pushing me to ask the question that I know many Muslims ask: Why do young people who are supposed to be my brothers or sisters in faith terrorize innocent civilians to make a point I can scarcely fathom? Perhaps the reason I cannot find the answer to this question is that it is rooted in the non-Muslim American reality, a reality that is categorically rejected by extremist Muslims. This rejection incites an equally vehement condemnation by Americans of the extremist worldview. Thus, we have an impasse: Two realities sharply separated. No nuances, no gray area. Or is there? Growing up in the United States, I have learned that we Americans stride across the world's stage with an assured gait, a confidence born of the belief that we act in the interest of freedom, democracy and an ineffable yet essential goodness. The images that have pulsed through me since my youth are of an ascendant America, an icon of liberty and hope. These are the reasons my parents immigrated here, the reasons so many Muslims have come here.

Rooted in this reality, I reject everything extremists say, every excuse they make, and I see only my reality and their misguided outlook. But there is some inner voice nagging at me, reminding me that when I speak with peaceful Muslims from America, Australia, England, Pakistan and Scotland, I become aware of their reality, which conflicts on some very deep levels with my own. With fresh eyes, I begin to see their point of view. And I realize that their voices have been adopted and warped by Islamic radicals. I feel that the concerns of moderate Muslims are legitimate when I read this: According to two British organizations, at least 25,000 Iraqi civilians have died so far in the war, more than one-third of them killed by U.S. troops and their allies and more than 1,000 of them children. Killed in a war that the Muslims I have spoken with found difficult to justify. And when I read this: Nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica in July 1995, and callously tossed into mass graves in the surrounding area. They were murdered with U.N. troops standing by, unable to act. Murdered after the world had vowed that genocide would never taint Europe again. And while some implicated in the atrocity have been tried, its two main architects remain at large. (MORE)

 


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