Neither police nor Al-Jumaili’s family are yet claiming a motive, but focus has naturally fallen on the growing trend of violence against Muslims in the United States. Dallas Police Major Jeff Cotner said police considered hate crime a “possibility.” A local Methodist pastor, as well as a representative from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, have both said the local community already fears as much.
And yet Al-Jumaili’s killing has received strikingly little attention, other than a few mostly brief media reports, and the statements of faith leaders in Dallas hinting at a climate of hostility toward Muslims there.
Yes, perhaps the murder will turn out to be unrelated to Al-Jumaili’s faith or background. It could have been a random attack, or even, as police say they are considering, an accident. But it seems odd that Americans, who pride themselves on inclusiveness and tolerance, would be so blithe and so uninterested that, in a time of increasingly overt hatred toward a minority group, yet another member of that group has been murdered for no apparent reason, in his third week in this country, while photographing snow with his wife.
If Islam had been the religion of the shooter rather than the religion of the victim, if police suspected a motivation of Islamic extremism rather than a possible motivation of anti-Muslim extremism, the murder would have been enormous national news. But because the shooter was perhaps instead motivated by extremist Islamophobia (again, at this point an unconfirmed but widespread perception), and because it was the victim rather than the killer who was Muslim, it hardly caused a blip.
Americans have a national responsibility to protect their own. Even if it turns out that Al-Jumaili’s death had nothing to do with his religion, it is at this point a very real possibility that he was another Muslim targeted in the United States for this faith, and the national shrug that has met this possibility — the fact that most Americans have no idea this man was shot to death on Thursday night while photographing his first snow — shows that we, as a country, are not fulfilling that responsibility.
My emphasis added.