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Fears of a Muslim in Boston

April 25th, 2013
10:31 AM ET

By Claire Calzonetti & Samuel Burke, CNN

When the bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon last Monday, Pakistani doctor Haider Javed Warraich was eating lunch at a restaurant nearby.

As a doctor, his first reaction was to help the injured.

But he second-guessed his own response, believing that he could be viewed as a potential suspect because of his ethnicity.

"As a 20-something Pakistani male with dark stubble, would I not fit the bill?” Warraich wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times last week, saying, “I remember feeling grateful that I wasn't wearing a backpack." 

RELATED: Chechen opposition leader denies ties to Tsarnaev brothers

He called home to tell his family that he hadn’t been hurt in the bombings, but purposely didn't speak in his native language, Urdu, for fear that it would raise suspicion.

The Muslim community in Boston and across the country has strongly condemned the violence. And yet still, all these years after 9/11, the burden of association remains a heavy one.

“I did think about how I could help and I contacted my hospital,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview Wednesday. “But then these other thoughts did sort of make it complicated – my thoughts about being able to go back to the site itself.”

Learning that the Tsarnaev brothers are Muslim upset Warraich.

“It made me very angry,” he said. “I was disappointed that the Muslims who live in the United States and around the world have been trying very hard, especially since 9/11, to show everyone else that they are, in fact, peace-loving people.”

Warraich fears that acts by a minority of Muslims fulfill the stereotypes that many have of all adherents to Islam.

“The atrocities that these two brothers have committed have pushed us back,” he said of the Boston bombings, which the Tsarnaevs are alleged to have carried out. Warraich now worries that Muslims will have to start from scratch.

Incorrect and inflammatory comments on the internet have been a source of consternation in the wake of the Boston attacks, but Warraich said the online response to his op-ed showed him the positive side of internet commentary.

“It does give me a lot of hope,” he said. “I've experienced that people in the United States, people around the world, use the Internet as a way to reach out to others, as a way to express empathy. And I have received a lot of empathy and a lot of kindness from the people of this city and this country.”

Warraich has returned to work in the ICU of the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston where many of the seriously injured are being treated. It is also where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been treated.

“These are times that are, in some ways, unprecedented,” he said. “But in some ways, this is business as usual. Patients are here; we are treating them. And I'm happy to say that all of the victims are now, at least the ones who are in the Beth Israel Deaconess, are now out of critical condition. And that is what we are really focused on at this point.”

READ MORE: Did al Qaeda magazine inspire Tsarnaev brothers?

Filed under:  Boston bombings • Latest Episode
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. radjdjah

    As we kknow about the communism of Karl Marx,it was the opposite of demectarie,but the Islam want to take over the world an everyone must become a moslim as tehy did it at the beginning of Mohammed;If yoy became a muslim you could live and if not you was killed.That's why watch out.

    April 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  2. KTShamim

    First Dr. Abdus Salam. Now this. Wow Ms. Amanpour ... I am impressed! JazakAllah and Assalamualaikum (God bless you and peace be upon you).

    April 25, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Reply
    • ijaz

      Aslamualikum Dear Sister. Khuda na khawasta aap k pass koi Muslim kisi Rohani Marz ka Shikar he ya La Elaaj Marz me he to Qurani Ayaat se Elaaj k liye Contect kre.apna masla email kre.

      June 14, 2013 at 1:59 am | Reply
  3. Mandis

    I recently heard someone say: "Did you hear what more than 99 percent of Muslims in America said about the Boston bombers? They said, Thank God the bombers WEREN'T Muslim." Makes you think, doesn't it? Thanks for your service, Amanpour ...

    April 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  4. jimmy lim

    Unless n until a fatwa saying that all muslim terrorists caught murdering and inflicting carnage will not be given last rites and proper burial instead their bodies will be fed to crocs, bombings by muslim terrorists will contniue to plague western society. The western society and also muslim world need to step up to come up with stern deterrent to stop these dastardly acts of terror. There is no other alternative

    April 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Reply
  5. raj

    hatred and bloodshed sees no religion its a sheer state of mind of one been percieved by any external factor or been brainwahsed by some as a human you are bound to be emotional and have feelings negative or positive depends where you are what you see and what you have undergone value of life has been min on todays date people kill other people out of cold blood and on petty issues.. hope human see some humanity soon and behave better than animals..

    April 26, 2013 at 2:46 am | Reply
  6. Raheem,M.A

    Boston incident is very unfortunate ,this act of terrorism is unislamic and ungodly and it should be condemned strongly by any right thinking person. However ,this should not be used to judge Islam or Muslims generally. No religion be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism,Buddhism et cetera, preaches violence or terrorism but what we have to know is that individual behaves according to his/her dictate or emotion and feeling and this individual belongs to one religion or the other and when he or she behaves abnormally, we should not ascribe that act to his faith.To understand a particular faith, we should study the origin of that faith. The word Islam came from salam which means peace and any body that profess that faith should behave peacefully.

    April 26, 2013 at 4:29 am | Reply
    • Lets Clear Things Up

      We can ascribe it to a faith when the perpi-TRATORS state that they are muslim and are killing on behalf of their religion.

      April 26, 2013 at 8:13 am | Reply
      • -s

        @Lets Clear Things Up: It's a bit strange to choose to believe that the perpetrators' claims are more true than the billions of non-perpetrators who happen to be Muslim who are (and have been) saying otherwise. Believing a criminal's rationale to murder is a strange business. A significant percentage of doctors and engineers in the US happen to be Muslim (it's an internal stereotype the younger Muslim generation like myself have been trying to escape in order to pursue social sciences and really all the other areas of study out there). People trust their Muslim doctors advising them how to lower cholesterol and prevent heart-attacks and whether or not they should opt for surgeries, yet they're not sure why their Muslim doctors "don't condemn acts of terrorism." Seriously? Treating Muslims as suspects first is un-American. Murderers are murderers–they can take up their claims to any religion with their Maker in the next life because we ain't havin' it here. It doesn't make sense to hold me accountable for the Boston bombers any more than it would to hold me accountable for Adam Lanza. I never met any of them. I can't apologize for actions I had nothing to do with. It's sad you would dismiss all the other Muslims as myself who are seamless, tax-paying, productive parts of American communities in order to believe individuals who are criminals. Who you choose to believe is on you.

        May 4, 2013 at 2:18 am |
  7. jimmy lim

    That is what the boston 2 brothers and the canadian terrorists (1 korean convert caught in Algeria) did. They studied the faith, cnverted and radicalised to become terrorists to cause max carnage and to kill. And that is a fact

    April 26, 2013 at 10:35 am | Reply
  8. mirza

    Lack of tolerance and lack of awareness about others being rampant all over the world are the major sources of trouble. How much do we know about others and their beliefs? When there is no awareness the wrong or often people with hidden agenda infest the minds, Thank you Ms. Amanpour and Dr.Haider Javed Warraich for a very timely and relevant CNN event. I liked the closing remark of the Dr. " business as usual"

    April 26, 2013 at 11:00 am | Reply
  9. philex Akase

    Hating on the Muslims is not a good thing at all, since it is not all of them that are terrorists. But my concern is, the majority of them who are not terrorists what are they doing to expose the very few who are spoiling the name of the religion by their nefarious acts. When the vast majority keep quiet in the face of these things for the fear of whatever (only God knows), it then adds up to a conspiracy of silence. A typical example is the recent clash between the enemy sect and members of the government security in northern Nigeria that over a hundred people were confirmed dead. News coming out from the security personnel says that the enemy sect (boko haram) were hiding arms in a Mosque in that neighbourhood. Could it be that up on till that time of the clash, it was only members of the sect that worship in that Mosque? Another thing is the FBI and CIA of the USA, the Russia govt contacted them twice on the late Tarnaev, but nothing was done about him till he killed people in Boston, just like the father of the Underpant Bomber Abdullmutallab personally reported his son to the authorities of the USA in Nigeria and nothing was done about him, but thanks Almighty God he could not succeed.

    April 26, 2013 at 11:39 am | Reply
  10. Saleem Tijjani Ibraheem

    There has been misconception With non-muslims and muslims, Islam doesn't accept bombing and other terror acts. Those doing so are doing it for their selfish interest, it's personally their evil deeds! Islam is a religion of peace..

    April 26, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  11. yasir sami

    i feel ashamed when i see or hear what my Muslim people do with the innocent people in the name of religion...... unbelievable to understand any thinking who justify such act or acts..... causing great disharmony and fear in various other Muslims living in western society

    April 27, 2013 at 1:45 am | Reply
  12. jimmy lim

    Dont you think its about time muslim americans take the lead to form a "Worldwide Muslim Council" similar to the Vatican to dispense, educate, supervise and implement policies, principles, decrees consistent with Islam and in harmony with other faiths, international norms etc etc to raise Islam religion to a higher and acceptable level as all muslims claim their faith to be peaceful and tolerant. Pls put your money where your mouth is so that the world will be more peaceful and tolerant without all these hatred and intolerance spewing out from these bad muslims preaching hatred and killing. So in future all muslims will take guidance from one source and not from all the various fanatical imams. this will only benefit muslims from all the denigration from the bad muslims. But are muslims brave to confront this issue?

    April 27, 2013 at 3:07 am | Reply
  13. Ashar

    Islamists are not religious people. They find it convenient to hide under the cloak of religion to destroy the things they hate or are jealous with. Just closely watch all the Islamists and you will find an amazing pattern. They tell lies in their daily lives, they don't pay taxes, they have no human values, they steal, they are profiteers in business and they are not honest in their dealings. Yet they preach the religion in order to give a false impression that they are very pious people. They need to become first of all good humans and then they can become good Muslims. Unfortunately, a vast majority of them is not even human.

    Secondly, those who commit terrorism in western societies after becoming nationals should be harshly punished. If they have a problem with Western values or society, they should happily leave those countries and head to their native ones where they can implement and exercise their religion with full freedom. They have no right to eat, live and enjoy lives in West while also causing damage to their societies. This is one clear and clean thing. I am a Muslim but I think a vast majority of Muslims is ignorant, arrogant, illiterate and jealous.

    April 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  14. Ranchero Assala

    I would like to ask other muslims/Islamists if they do not see the clear satanic influences in teachers/Imams who preach attacking western targets or People, which sometimes includes innocent muslim Children being killed in the name of Allah. Afterwards some say god is great!!! Our God who created Heaven and Earth (remember all tribes, races, all life) does not teach us such, NO he does not!!! instead he teaches LOVE, FORIVENESS,PEACE, FAITH, HOPE etc... moulding us for his eternal life. Imams who teach People to blow themselves up are liars who are distined to hell togeather with their disciples if they do not change. PEOPLE THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED TRUTH, TRUTH LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IRREGARDLESS OF WHO YOU ARE!!!

    April 29, 2013 at 9:42 am | Reply
  15. joe21

    Ok seriously how do you say Islam is a religion of Peace when majority of the world violence in the name of religion is committed by Muslim? Islam by all means a barbaric Arabian tribal religion design to kill other believer if not converted. If anyone tells Islam is a peace loving religion then that Muslim does not know what Islam is. Islam is a hateful religion. Muslims are encouraged to like sympathetically to a non-Muslim. west need to know these folks are here to kill you, if you really want to know what Islam is capable off, read the Indian subcontinent History form the time of Gazni in 11th century. I lived with Muslim all my life, every aspect of their life is to achieve superiority over other believer by any means, they are encourage to Deceive , Decapitate, thus Destroy other human civilization. Here something interesting you want to know when any one speak out about Islam then it became hateful speech and in some country its punishable that includes western country but if those clerics or imam speaks in public, justify raping of a nonbeliever women and further compares nonbeliever women as uncovered meant left outside in Australia . There was no recourse for this Imam why because he is freaking Muslim, they are like honey bee you touch them they all scream towards your irrationally inject their venom. even if someone talks little bit about Islam there are laws in place to prosecute that individual as hate crime. Simply when Muslim does the worst inhuman crime it’s not a crime because their Allah decree them to do so. Boston bombing is nothing compare to whats more to come in the coming years and from born Muslim US citizen. Muslim do not believe in integration every Muslim is petri dish when they move to a different country. Funny thing is they want to enact the very law or system every Muslim escaped from in a different country. how hypocritical to Muslim brother do you see?

    May 10, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Reply
  16. Ali Khan

    It is your duty to ALLAH to fight the unbelievers until they learn Islam and only Islam is the way to God. The infidels who refuse Allah must be sent to eternal damnation!

    May 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Reply

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