The Boston Marathon is considered one of the biggest events for athletes after the Olympic Games. It is the oldest annual marathon in the world, and it has many historical stories of achievement. Citizens, residents and tourists are proud to participate in and watch this event. After the horrific Boston Marathon bombing, more than 200 people were injured and three were killed. A 20-year-old Saudi man was injured from the explosion like others. A bystander saw the badly injured Saudi man running and tackled him shortly after the blast. However, I’d like to call attention to the police officers who saw his race and nationality and decided to investigate his presumed guilt further. While he was treated in the hospital, his apartment was searched in a startling show of force. The interrogators suspected him because he was running after the bomb went off. The media played a role to paint him as a main suspect, but the police spokesperson said that it was false information and there was no one in custody. However, his name popped up on the Web, social media and newspapers as a “suspect in custody” regardless.
What happened in Boston has shocked and horrified us as international students. We deplored and mourned the loss of innocent lives in the criminal attack, which was an assault on our fundamental moral values. It was a senseless massacre of the innocent by perpetrators of violence. Terrorism has no nationality or religion. Unfortunately, Islam is popularly seen as a violent religion, and Muslims are envisaged as terrorists. The Holy Quran says, “If anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land — it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” After the explosion I received many calls and messages from my family and friends who prayed for us and who were full of dread from the reaction against us. Our fears were exacerbated by early media reports that a Saudi student who was taken to the hospital after the explosions was questioned by officers. As a Saudi international student, the implication of false accusations against all international students abhors me, and I’m sure my fellow foreign students feel the same. Sadly, the surviving terrorist was a student, but we all condemn and are disgusted by his actions. The fear of being considered a suspect because one is Muslim, Arab and/or Saudi is enough to prevent someone from doing something natural or routine. Humanity is not related to nationality or racism. If I were there, as a human being, I would have helped injured people, donated my blood, prayed for them, volunteered, and cooperated with law enforcement officers who kept the streets safe.
I endorse the idea that that the U.S. should be cognizant and meticulous in the future to protect the citizens and residents from ominous forces in this country. The fear associated with 9/11 has returned because of the continued employment of discriminatory judicial processes that are inequitable and judge people not on their behavior but on their nationality. The world looks to the U.S. as a role model of democracy and freedom. As international students, the U.S. has inspired us to pursue careers in technology, sciences, medicine and other fields, and we are fortunate to get the opportunity to study in the greatest universities in the world. Indeed, there are many students from Saudi Arabia who are studying in different fields and organizations. It is undeniable that universities and research centers are major drivers of the U.S. economy. If the U.S. continues the prejudicial process and unfair treatment of international students, those students will look for other options, which could affect the quality of U.S. education. Finally, at the interfaith memorial services for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, President Obama said, “Every fall, you welcome students from all across America and all across the globe. And every spring, you graduate them back into the world.” As if those words will motivate and encourage us as international students to keep going! Is that what we expect from Obama’s government.
Bassam Albraidy is a freshman ESL major at Drexel University. He can be contacted at [email protected].