Asya Ashour Staff Writer
The inspiration behind this article was the detainment of the initial suspect of the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday, April 15. According to the New York Post, a Saudi immigrant of the name Abdul Rahman Ali Al-Harbi, was the first suspect detained (the Boston police commissioner, how- ever, denied having any suspects in custody). The Post claims that a civilian at the scene thought Al-Harbi was acting suspiciously, so he captured him and turned him in to the Boston Police. During his stay at the hospital due to injuries, Al-Harbi was guarded, his apartment was searched, and his roommate was questioned.
Later, it was discovered that Al-Harbi is in fact innocent. Some of the questions that remain unanswered are whether his (apparently fictional) detainment can be justified, and whether the New York Post’s communication of this false information serves to implicate race and religion with the profiling of potential terror suspects.
Kaitlyn Donofrio, a sopho- more History Education major, was in opposition to Al-Harbi’s supposed arrest. She believes it is a form of discrimination because the justice system asserts that “you are innocent until proven guilty.” Moreover, there was no firm evidence that indicated his involvement, and so it appears that he was arrested simply because of his race or religion. Steven Corina, a junior Elementary Education major, said that “they should take what the [civilian] said into consideration, but they shouldn’t arrest [Al-Harbi] or search his apartment.”
Furthermore, Zach Barnett, a senior Adolescent Education ma- jor, insisted that, “they shouldn’t have [detained him] because that’s racial profiling, and it’s wrong.” In fact, racial profiling is illegal as a result of the 4th and 14th Amendments as well as the Civil Rights Act. Regardless, racial profiling still exists, targeting specific groups such as Mexicans or African Americans for crimes involv- ing drugs, Hispanics for being illegal immigrants, and Arabs and Muslims as the cause of terrorist attacks.
This could possibly be the result of the media’s persistence in highlighting certain characteristics of criminals. Donofrio reflects that the media “ties terrorism to religion” and is constantly depicting “Arabs as the ‘bad guys.’” “Don’t call them ‘Islamist’ terrorists,” states Donofrio, “so people don’t associate the religion with terror- ism.” Donofrio also mentions that “if there was a Catholic terrorist, I wouldn’t want to be feared just because I am also Catholic.”
Michelle Aranella, a sophomore Math major, said, “The news shouldn’t mention color, race or religion so people don’t become afraid of those people,” Aranella said. “Specifying racial information would cause uneducated people [to] believe these wrong assumptions.”
This “creates hatred and fear,” said Danielle Aranella, a sopho- more Childhood Education major.
“We live in a country where we are made to fear,” Donofrio declared. “This results in hatred, which in turn leads to (more) acts of violence.”
“What if it was a white person?” Donofrio asks. She, along with M. Aranella and D. Aranella, agreed that the media depicts a White terrorist as an individual isolated from American society who, in the majority of cases, suf- fers from some type of mental illness. They indicate how the media
does not mention the race or religion of White American criminals.
David Sirota, in his Salon. com article “Let’s hope the Bos- ton Marathon bomber is a white American,” emphasized this double-standard and so-called “white privilege.” He alleges that, “White terrorists are dealt with as lone wolves, [whereas] Islamists are existential threats.” No labels are placed on White Americans. However, all Muslims across the globe must suffer under the brand name of “Islamist terrorists.” A simple Google search about terror attacks in the U.S. will confirm M. Aranella’s statement that, “terrorists come from everywhere.”
The solution? “Be open-minded,” says D. Aranella. Be able to distinguish racism from plain facts and don’t take everything you hear at face value. Most importantly, don’t link bad characteristics to a particular group of people. Donofrio reminds us that “the main idea of all religions is to be a good person,” so don’t allow anyone to “use their religion as the excuse of doing something bad.” Finally, as Emerson puts it, “live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse.”