An Intent to Maim, Kill, or Disfigure
Let me open by saying if one had solely listened to the audio of this deposition, what race would one guess that this man was? I would guess that he was an Englishman who wore an argyle sweater vest and drove a Prius. After listening to this and now seeing the pictures of the man who tried to kill this Muslim man and his cousin, I had to do a double take.
According to Wikipedia, an acid attack is a violent form of premeditated assault involving throwing acid on someone in order to physically maim, kill, or disfigure them. Attackers often aim for the head or face of their victim in order to harm or blind them. Dictionary.com states that terrorism can be defined in three ways. One way is the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. Another way is the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization. Lastly a third way defines it as a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government. However you look at it, in some way or another an acid attack should be considered terrorism.
After being upset by yet another terrible event that may go unpunished due to lack of evidence, bias, or other ways around, I was very surprised with one of the victims, Resham Khan said according to The Guardian. “At a time when all I am being sent is positivity and love, please don’t let this man anger you or categorize others. Regardless of whatever was going on in his head during his cruel and vicious attack, I really don’t want this to help fuel a division among people. “From a large majority, there will always be a sick and twisted minority. Stop tearing each other down, stop arguing religion and politics. Make peace with each other and the world. Letting this man or the events of the past fill you up with hate will only darken the soul.”
Wow. Those were such loving words, despite such a horrible crime. These victims were attacked by acid. No, this did not happen in the Middle East, but it happened in the United Kingdom. One would think that it would be stereotypically be done by a Muslim person who was maybe upset with his wife, right? Or maybe it was a harsh punishment on a daughter who was smitten with a boyfriend and wanted to run away, which was against her father’s wishes. Nope. None of that. It was by the hands of a citizen who does not match the narrative of a terrorist from this decade. My heart feels every time I hear innocent people being attacked, hurt, or worse. Their background does not make too much of a difference to me because my sentiments do not change. To me it’s adding insult to injury when these same events happen to certain people of color. It seems that the justice system, government, or authorities aren’t quick enough to react, lack a sense of empathy, or simply do not equate the same level of importance. Oh yeah, I’d like to mention that the fugitive is still at large. After allegedly randomly picking two Middle-Eastern individuals to acid attack; he is still at large. It’s not random. This story sounds like it’s about 100 years too old and happening in a different country, but it’s not.
If this happened in my home town of Goleta, there would be city-wide manhunt. We would probably get state troopers and volunteer officers from multiple county departments patrolling every possible street until this person was found. I feel like what would be going through all of our minds if this was happening would be; it’s only a matter of time before they catch this terrorist as we shake our heads and parse our lips together because of the sour taste in our mouth that they still have not been caught. I feel like since the skin color doesn’t match the narrative, news sources tend to omit the word terrorist. It’s like they are failing at a second grade game of logical analogies. An apple is to fruit as a carrot is to vegetable. A Muslim man who threw acid is to terrorism as a White UK man who threw acid is to assault? Wait what? Even a second grader can answer that one correctly.
What I do like is when I see strength like the strength of Mukhtar and Khan. How brave of him to share his story. It must have been a harrowing experience. Imagine being your car and thinking some punks played a prank on. Then after a few moments the prank begins to creep into something deadlier. Acid. Slowly. Burning. Your. Body. There is a reason chemistry buildings have the emergency eye wash and water showers. They had to strip their clothes from their bodies and pound on neighbors’ doors. Imagine explaining to people that you are not trying to harm them, but you desperately need their help to help douse you with anything to stop the agony. Put that all together; surprise, anger, fear, horror, embarrassment, and the fact that you thought you were going to die.
I wanted to share this post to pose the question, when do we deem something as an act of terrorism? Does it need to have a body count do it? Does it need to be fueled by anti-democratic or anti-patriotic ideologies? Or can it be perpetrated by anyone regardless of their race, creed, denomination, etc.? There are some days when there are too many sad stories. I try to find the sliver of hope within them and I am happy that Khan and Resham remain strong. Please spread awareness of what is happening to people of Middle Eastern descent or people who resemble said persons due to stereotypes and ignorance. We have a lot of work to do regarding safety, regulation, and education.
Images taken from Independent.co.uk