I sat in front of my computer as I typed this article away with trembling hands. Before this, I was busy watching the last of the Halloween movie marathons and handing out Halloween candy to the neighborhood kids. But, all of that quickly dispersed as my phone blared a notification from The New York Times announcing breaking news. I don't know what made me check my phone. I always ignore these notifications.
That's when my eyes widened in horror as I finally grasped the words of the headline. There had been an attack. In Manhattan. Before I could pray that this act was not one carried out in the name of terrorism and that no one was seriously hurt, I was already too late.
The mayor had already deemed the accident as a terrorist attack. And lives had been lost.
I quickly scrolled through the article with tears in my eyes. What had happened was horrific. No one deserved that. But what disturbed me more were the comments that were plaguing the comments sections on most, if not all, platforms airing this horror. They deemed all Muslims as the center of this conspiracy. They blamed the fact that NYC was a sanctuary city as the reason for the attack. But this had nothing to do with all Muslims; it had something to do with his own personal decision.
He was a man from Florida. And a U.S. citizen.
The attacker being Muslim was merely one of the identities that made him a person. A person, especially a psychotic person as this one, needs to be seen as a whole and not a part. His Muslim identity is not the only thing that defines him, but unfortunately, the media chooses to focus on that. Had he not uttered the so seemingly Muslim words after running out like a coward, he would've been deemed a madman instead of a terrorist.
It scares me to think that instead of standing up for one another, people choose to cowardly sit behind their computer screens and spew hateful remarks that assign blame to innocent people. It's sad that these people choose to divide us, instead of standing as a united front in the face of adversity.
As American Muslims, that's what scares us.
Being blamed for someone who we are not even remotely connected with. We are Americans just like others. We have earned our right to live here and make our lives as promised by the American Dream. We are doctors, lawyers, engineers, students, teachers, artists, and the makers of change. We stand with America, although it is quite stupid that we have to keep proving our patriotism for the country we have chosen to reside in; a country which we have given our rights to and a country which has gifted us with a new life.
So here goes. My name is Rubia Shahbaz. And I am an American Muslim. I (and all the other American Muslims) do not support his heinous crime. We are Americans before we are citizens of any other country. We swore our oath to America when we were granted citizenship.
God Bless America and all the humans that reside here.