I read the sad news in the Star Tribune about the Pakistani Taliban killing 141 children at a school in Peshawar. The very mention of a school shooting brings back terrible memories of Columbine, Sandy Hook, and other such tragedies. I decided to read through the readers’ comments. What I expected was a show of empathy and solidarity with the hapless parents of these dozens of kids who died at the hands of terrorists. However, to my utter shock, I saw some blaming Islam, while others were regurgitating the oft answered question “Why are Muslims not condemning terrorism.”
Coming on the heels of the terror in Sydney, wreaked by a deranged lunatic who happened to be Muslim, this tragedy in Pakistan shocked the world to its core. The savagery of this terrorist act can be gauged by the fact that even the Afghan Taliban issued a condemnation of this action by the Pakistani Taliban.
As I was going through my Facebook page, I came across an incredibly eloquent and truly heartfelt post by Munazza Humayun, a Twin Cities Muslim and an attorney by profession. This expression of outrage and frustration is something I believe is felt by a vast majority of American Muslims. I am reproducing her post with her permission below.
Another day, another tragedy. More grumbling from certain quarters that "moderate" Muslims are silent, that they don't condemn terrorism and tacitly support it. And once again, I try to decide whether I should write something. You know, to condemn terrorism, being a "moderate" Muslim and all (whatever that means).
I guess I'll give it a shot.
"I don't support killing children."
But that seems really weak. Doesn't go far enough.
"I strongly condemn the killing of innocent people."
No. Not profound enough. Sounds like a prepared statement. Doesn't seem heartfelt.
So what would be heartfelt? Unfortunately, what's heartfelt is not eloquent. It provides no answers. No satisfying explanation that neatly distances "moderate Muslims" from the ideologies of terrorists. Because the truth is, I can't wrap my mind around, let alone be able to explain to someone else, what the ideologies of terrorists are.
Here's the truth: I don't understand. I just don't. I don't know how anyone could justify this. It makes me sad. The kind of sad where you find tears suddenly rolling down your cheeks, tears for strangers, while you're sitting in a deli eating breakfast and CNN comes on the TV, with a story about the lawyer who was killed in the Sydney cafe siege while trying to protect her pregnant friend from gunfire. Followed by picture after picture from Peshawar of parents and relatives with grief-stricken faces, clutching their dead children.
I'm sad that I have to write this and prove my humanity. And I doubt that this will satisfy those who demand that the "silent" Muslim majority speak out against terrorism. But I suspect that this captures what many Muslims feel every time something like this happens. We feel numb, lost, distraught, sick, sometimes unable to keep the tears from spilling in public places, and often unable to find the magic words that would put that special "Moderate Muslim" gloss on the standard, average-person reaction to inexplicable, sickening violence.
My heartfelt condolences to the parents and relatives of the students who lost their lives in this senseless tragedy in Pakistan. I pray that all the children in the world are safe from any harm.