Last Sunday, I was one of only seven people to attend a rally called outside the Pakistani Embassy by Mauri Saalakhan of the Peace and Justice Foundation to show support for the call for an independent medical panel to investigate the condition of Dr. Aafia Siddiqi. She is the neuroscientist who seems to be losing her mental balance after the disappearance of her children and five years of secret incarceration followed by herÂ sentencing to 86 years in prison on charges she still denies despite having lost all hope of appeal. I made an observation that related our disappointment at the small turnout at the rally to a movie I had seen the day before and to a verse of the Qur’an. Mauri asked me to publish my observation, so here it is.
The movie I saw was “Selma.” It depicts the events leading up to and following the “Bloody Sunday” when police brutally attacked and beat unarmedÂ demonstrators peacefully marching for voting rights at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King called on clergy from across the U.S. to join the demonstrators on the next day, and they did. The movie depicts one white cleric from Boston coming out of a diner and being confronted by a local who announces that the only thing they hate worse than “n*****s” are “White n*****s” and then proceeds to beat the Bostonian to death.
The verse of the Qur’an is God’s call to the people of different faiths to “compete with one anotherÂ (as in a race) in good works” (2:148). Hundreds of Christians and Jews called on by Dr. King traveled thousands of miles on short notice to face possible death to marchÂ for vote enfranchisement. Of the local Muslims called to rally on a mild day with no hint of danger or discomfort, only seven troubled to come the few miles to engage in the simple humanitarian act of rallying forÂ an independent medical team to see a woman who, regardless of whether she committed the act of which she is convicted, seems to be losing her mind after years harsh treatment.
My fellow Muslims, God called us to race towards the good. We are losing the race.
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute