Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, is a total disgrace.
When he pleaded guilty to ten charges of terrorism and weapons violations, he was unrepentant and defiant. He called himself “a Muslim soldier.” He couldn’t be more wrong.
Shahzad is a disgrace to Pakistan, his country of origin. His crimes detract from the achievements of Pakistani people in spheres ranging from music (such as the late, great Sufi singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) to sports (notably cricket, squash and field hockey).
Shahzad is a disgrace to Pakistani-Americans, including a number of my friends. They now have to walk around under a pall of suspicion. His actions sully the sacrifice of Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who was killed on Sept. 11, 2001, while trying to rescue people inside the World Trade Center. His deeds also mar the work of Pakistani-American rock star Salman Ahmad, who has made it his life’s mission to spread a Muslim message of peace and reconciliation.
Shahzad is a disgrace to immigrants (including myself), who come to the United States to explore a new life, not to engage in death and destruction. He has fed into anti-immigrant sentiments, manifested recently in the Arizona law.
Above all, Shahzad is a disgrace to his religion by embracing those who espouse a violent, false version of it.
“It’s sad to see young Muslims across the planet being brainwashed by murderous thugs masquerading as holy men,” says Ahmad. “The people who attempt to kill in the name of religion are the enemies of Islam and humanity; they are terrorists, not heroes.”
Shahzad claimed to have political grievances, but he ignored two wonderful examples from Pakistan about how to act in a moral way to accomplish political ends.
In the 1930s and 1940s, there was a mass Gandhian movement among the Pashtuns in the border region of Pakistan dedicated to achieving independence from the British and to enacting social reform. And two years ago, a nonviolent lawyers’ uprising in the country helped bring down the military dictatorship of U.S.-backed strongman Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Shahzad didn’t bother to follow this course. Instead, he opted for nihilistic violence.
The only saving grace is that he was too inept to cause any damage.
Amitabh Pal, the co-editor of the Progressive Media Project and the managing editor of The Progressive magazine in Madison, Wis., is writing a book on Islam and nonviolence to be published by Praeger next year. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the Managing Editor of The Progressive, check out his piece “Afghanistan’s Mineral Bonanza May Spell Trouble for Its People.”
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