04.23.2013 _____________________

Please, God, don’t let it be a Muslim:

That’s been my prayer, my mantra, recited, sadly, far too many times.

After the Oklahoma City bombing I implored, “Please, God, don’t let the murderers be Muslim.”

After 9/11, I pleaded, “Please don’t let the killers be Muslim.”

After shootings at Virginia Tech and Fort Hood, I wrote, “Please, God, don’t let the shooter be Muslim.”

Monday my prayer changed. As I prayed for the victims, I didn’t care who the killers were.
Terrorists are not Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu, or secular humanists. Terrorists dwell apart, in dark corners, untethered from the humanity that connects us in our common struggle for freedom and dignity. I know that even if the killers are Muslim that it has nothing to do with me, other Muslims, or Islam.

I knew that there were Muslim marathoners, and I knew that some of the victims could be Muslim. I was certain that there were Muslims among those rushing forward with no regard for their own safety to help victims. I knew that there were Muslims in ER rooms treating the victims.

Monday, no one was asking for ID cards. We were all Bostonians, Americans all, we were each other’s brothers, sisters, keepers.

Sadly, too, on Monday I remembered the loss of innocence that accompanied the terror and losses of 9/11.

I remember on a warm September day turning down my car radio so passersby couldn’t hear Arabic music coming from my open windows.

I remember being questioned by the FBI about overseas calls I made before and after 9/11.
I remember, too, my neighbors’ fears, and the struggle to calm their fears.

By Friday, we knew the terrorists names, and now, it seems, the brothers were Muslims. Still, whoever they were, and whatever their motives might have been, they have nothing to do with me or with my understanding of Islam or any other religion.

Muslims, present in this land since the first slaves arrived, need to be re-enfranchised in America’s public square. By listening to each other, by sharing our prayers, fears and loves, we strengthen America’s security and renew our commitment to America’s promise.

This column originally appeared in the Portsmouth Herald and
was based on a CBS news commentary which can be viewed at: