I lived in Egypt. I think we all know that, by now. I lived in lots of places, but during the summer of 2001, I was a student hire at the US Agency for International Development. It was an extremely cushy job, and I met lots of awesome people. One was named Mo. Mo was moving to the states to get a masters degree in engineering. He was a great person, with a fantastic personality. He promised to keep in touch.
And then 9/11 hit.
I knew he was going to be in New York, as that’s where he was studying. I wrote him frantically, asking him if he was ok. He wrote back, said he was fine. And then he went quiet. No emails.
I saw on the very limited English speaking news that officials in New York had arrested a “Muslim” involved with the attack. The court sketch of the suspect looked familiar, but it flashed across the screen too quickly to really take any notice.
Maybe some of you remember this.
Yeah. That was Mo.
Later on, he was exonerated. He went back to Egypt, and lives in relative obscurity, trying not to hold a grudge against a country that he truly loved.
So when I see news headlines that say that a Saudi was seen “acting suspiciously” and “running away” from the Boston marathon explosion, I am a little skeptical. I would hate for someone else who is innocent to receive the same treatment that Mo got. We are all scared, angry, sad… lots of things. But I urge all of you to be cautious when you speak about “killing Muslims“. After 9/11 there was a horrible string of xenophobic hate crimes.
Take the time to hug your loved ones, and breathe.