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The London Bombings: A Muslim Perspective
by Anisa Mehdi

The first thing I did when I heard the horrifying news about the bombing in London was to call my cousin who was born in Britain and lives and works in the capital. Nigel's dad and mine both left their homeland, Iraq, in the 1940s. His dad moved to England and mine came to America.

He told me everyone was fine: my aunt, my other cousins, their spouses and children. Fortuitously, Nigel had given his employees the day off, so no one was caught in transit. But they were emotionally shaken, disgusted and aghast, relating now all too keenly to the previously struck citizens of New York and Madrid.

Another friend of mine had left London only 12 hours earlier. He’d been doing business on the street where the bus blew up. Other e-mails assured me my friends and colleagues in the news business were safe, each one with some story to tell. But more than 50 families are in the deepest mourning, and hundreds of others are worried sick about their wounded loved ones.

My emotions are complicated in the wake of this evil. I battle feelings of guilt -- guilt by association because I am Muslim and Muslims are the likely suspects in this case.

I felt a similar guilt as a white person watching white policemen hose down black American civil rights protesters in the 1960s. There was a guilt reading reports of massacres in Bosnia and Rwanda when my great nation might have stepped in to stop the crimes, and guilt at seeing it happen again in Darfur, again on my watch.

There is guilt seeing the destruction my tax dollars are bringing to my father's homeland, Iraq. But being associated by faith with people who may be behind this unjustifiable bloodbath is the knottiest.

Most Muslim Americans I know are tired of defending our faith in the wake of ongoing terrorism claimed in the name of Islam. We keep reminding our fellow Americans that there are bad apples in every barrel. That with five Muslims in one room you may get six opinions.

We point out, too, that maybe, just maybe, we're jumping to conclusions -- although in my heart of hearts I am resigned. Yet Catholics from the Irish Republican Army terrorized Great Britain for years. And a Jewish terrorist assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin. Homegrown Americans blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Remember that terrorism is political, not religious -- and even if people who are Muslim are indeed the perpetrators of this atrocity, neither Islam nor the billion-plus Muslims in the world are all to blame. It's just a few too many deranged and dangerous criminals who don't understand that Islam is a religion of mercy. And that is something I do understand, as do most other Muslims.

Let me reiterate something I've written before: These crimes against humanity are in no way a "jihad." They are in no way a struggle or striving to do God's will. These are acts of what we call in Arabic hiraba. Terrorism. They are acts that defile Islam.

In the light of this tragedy in London, the stories about desecrating the Quran in American military institutions pale. Destroying or disrespecting a book, no matter how precious, cannot be compared with murder.

If Muslim individuals are indeed behind the slaughter of innocents in London, it is they who truly commit sacrilege against Islam's holy book. They are the ones who are truly trashing the Quran.

Every Muslim individual and organization I know condemns these acts of terrorism.

Anisa Mehdi is a journalist and documentary filmmaker living in Maplewood. She specializes in religion and the arts.

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