I'm sitting in Cairo now as I write this letter, at the home of relatives with whom I was reunited yesterday after nearly a decade of separation. I went to sleep last night with a feeling of peace that I haven't felt in a long time and woke early this morning to the sound of the Azhan, the Islamic call to prayer, as it sung its way across the neighborhood and through the open window over my bed.
But as I was sharing hugs with my Muslim family here in Egypt, four very disturbed Muslim men were planting bombs in an effort to tear apart Jewish families in New York. Early news reports suggest that these men were "upset about the war in Afghanistan," so with a deranged rationale of misanthropic nihilism they somehow concluded that planting bombs in front of two Bronx synagogues and recreating the atmosphere of bloodshed, fear, and loss we experienced during and after 9/11 would provide some personal cathartic release.
I want my friends in the New York Jewish community to know how deeply I sympathize with the emotional anguish that is sure to pervade in the wake of this failed plot. While we're all concerned for the well-being of our families in this period of economic insecurity, none of us should carry the additional burden of being potential targets of violent acts of hate and terror. You have no idea how relieved I am that you are all safe from the will of these would-be terrorists and how concerned I am for your (and our collective) ongoing health and safety.
In all honesty, it is times like these that I wish Islam had some mechanism for excommunication. I wish that my non-Muslim friends and acquaintances would see me, my family, my Muslim friends, and the American Muslim community as representative of Islam rather than the headline-grabbing sociopaths who act in our name. I'm so sick of finding myself ashamed of something I didn't do, by someone I do not know, with motives I do not share, against people for whom I care.
Please know that you are not alone in the shock of this news... that good everyday people whom you have never met, and will likely never meet, as far away as Egypt are also distressed by this story. My thoughts and their thoughts are with you. My prayers and their prayers are for you.
Organizer, New York Community of Muslim Progressives and MPV Board Member