Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Boston Marathon Bomb & Islamophobia

This event shocked the world; the joyous celebration of Patriot's Day in the wonderful city of Boston suddenly interrupted by two explosions near the finish line of the Marathon.

I left Boston just last Friday morning and had walked past the scene earlier in the week, commenting on the restaurants offering bookings for the 'prime seats for the finish line'. Our Duck Tour guide told us how excited everyone was about the marathon and showing us where the finishers congregated.

I have blogged before about 'Where was God?' (read my post on the Sandy Hook shooting here) and the sentiments are true of this event. From a Christian point of view, God was most certainly evident in the marathon runners who finished the 26.2mi and carried on running to the local hospital to give blood (see here) or those who ran straight back into the blast area to carry out the wounded, not to mention the emergency services who could not have envisaged such scenes. In answer to some responses to this blog, this is an answer to the question, "If there is a God, where was He?" rather than an outright claim for his existence.

However, very quickly came the blame. Reports flooded Twitter that a Saudi Arabian man had been arrested; blame was almost instantly put on the Muslim community. It was amazing how quickly a large number of the Internet community instantly blamed Islamic terrorists.

The New Yorker have today (17/4/13) blogger about this, since the Saudi man was completly innocent. He was basically arrested and his house searched, his room mate quizzed for 5 hours because he was 'suspicious look'... apparently he was running away from the bomb scene, smelled like explosives (his wounds not being reason enough for this) and he asked if anyone was dead. He was also 'Arab-looking'.

The most powerful part of the blog for me was this, "... people who love him might have had to find out that a bomb had hit him when his name popped up on the Web as a suspect in custody. It is at these moments that we need to be most careful, not least." (The full article is here and well worth a read).

A friend posted this on Facebook, which I thought was very true:

This is the sad opening paragraph from The American Muslim site:

"Like millions of Americans across the nation, my heart dropped at the news of the bombings in Boston. As a mother, I was devastated for those who lost their children. As a spouse, I mourned for those who lost their life partner. And as a Muslim, I admittedly feared for the safety of my children and community from the inevitable backlash that would arise at the mere speculation that the suspect is a Muslim." (read more)

Even if it is discovered that the bomb was the responsiblity of Muslim terrorists, it seems increasingly that many are incapable of distinguisng between ordinary Muslims and these extremists. Fox News pundit Erik Rush Tweeted "Muslims are evil. Let’s kill them all." which caused a huge backlash (read more here). Officials have been very hesitant to blame anyone until more facts are known and certianly reactions like this are far from helpful. It is a clear case of Islamaphobia, an irrational fear of Islam.

This blog post is also a very good read on the outrageous reaction from some:
How not to be a jerk after the Boston Marathon bombing (or any other tragedy)

The BBC filmed some Boston Muslims talking after the bomb too (watch here).

Other theories are that far-right extremists are involved, using Patriot's Day, Tax Day and links to Boston's history as evidence (more on this here). 9/11 aside, nearly all terrorist attacks on America have been from white, often Christian, Americans.

It is clear that radicalism and fundamentalism must always be challenged and never tolerated. Whether Muslim or Christian, far-right or far-left... we must not divide our communities, especially without good reason.

Now is the time to direct our thoughts and prayers to those who have died, those who are injured and those who are hurting.

My message to the people of Boston who welcomed me so warmly last week, "Rise up, rise up..."

Bruce Springsteen plays "My City of Ruins" at Fenway Park, Boston, in 2012

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