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City of Brass

City of Brass

17 years later: The Oklahoma City bombing

Empty Chairs sculpture at the Oklahoma City National Memorial

On April 19th 1995, Timothy McVeigh carried out the first major successful domestic terrorist attack on United States soil: the total destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in downtown Oklahoma City.

Looking at Twitter today I see some references to Holocaust Remembrance, a lot of political blather about dogs and cookies, and other assorted nonsense. Amidst the noise, however, are two tweets from Umar Lee in remembrance of OKC that are worth highlighting:

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Umar is right that muslims themselves breathed a sigh of relief when it was revealed that McVeigh wasn’t from our community. And he’s right that many assumed it was a muslim to begin with. However, there’s an implied accusation here that I find disquieting. It’s important to remember though that since 9-11, muslim Americans have pose less of a threat than other groups, and remain the best allies against future attacks. It is important that we as muslims don’t look at the reduced rate of terrorism by muslims as a fact in isolation from the fact that our communities do cooperate quietly with law enforcement agencies, and continue to do so despite the betrayal of trust by organizations like the NYPD.

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It’s certainly true that there are self-promoting media muslims out there who will reliably confirm the Islamophobes’ worst biases against our community as a whole. For example, Asra Nomani penned a piece claiming that muslims should welcome NYPD surveillance, which in my opinion borders on obscene. Another example is Zuhdi Jasser, who is a favorite of the Islamophobia industry for validating broad-brush statements about muslims’ violent nature (Jasser is financially linked to the Clarion Fund which produced the unspeakably hate-filled film The Third Jihad). However, there’s a world of difference between people like these and the ordinary muslims who maintain vigilance against extremism in our homes and masjids.

Oklahoma City wasn’t perpetrated by muslims, but neither is it any excuse to relax our vigilance.

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