148 Terrorists


Artwork done by Tala Alkhaldi 


Saleem don’t forget to take your lunch darling!

148 terrorists.

I quickly ran back inside and swiped the small silver tin can off the table. Mama packed my favourite lunch for me today–lentil curry with rice.

148 terrorists.

I finally arrive at my small school, and sit in my place beside my best friend Zain. He’s complaining about how his mother put oil in his hair again to style it–I laugh. It cost Mama and Papa a lot of money to send me here, but they want what’s best for me. Education and knowledge is the epitome of happiness in my opinion.

148 terrorists.

“How can anyone not enjoy reading books?” I think to myself, as my class groans at the new reading assignment Mrs. Anwar announced.

148 terrorists.

During break time, I prance to the boys washroom as I sing songs from my favourite TV drama. I fix my red bow tie, and button up my khaki-coloured dress pants. My black dress shoes look perfect as always, although the blue blazer our school makes us wear isn’t exactly my style.

148 terrorists.

My ears won’t stop ringing. I can’t breathe, all the dust is fuming into my nostrils and mouth. My eyes are full of chalk dust and wood chips from the crushed school desks.

148 terrorists.

I look over at Mrs. Anwar… I think she’s dead. They shot her, they took their guns and they shot her. The Taliban shot her.

148 terrorists.

Zain is dead too. How can someone so bright, and so shiny be so lifeless in just one moment of time? “Wake up Zain! Please Zain! I want to hear you complain about your oily hair, and the yellow backpack your Mama bought for you. Don’t leave me in the dark. I want your light to shine on me again….”

148 terrorists.

Sarah, Nazneen, Irfan, Thabassum… they’re all dead too. Their eyes are all open… oh God how afraid they look. I want to crawl over and shut their eyelids for them, but I can’t move. The fear and anxiety has paralyzed me. I don’t even think I am blinking anymore. What have we done wrong? What did we do to deserve this?

148 terrorists.

The world says that we – us children, and our parents, and relatives, and grandparents – they say that we are the terrorists. They say that everyone in war-torn countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Iran, Yemen, Lebanon, and so many more, are full of terrorists. That all we want to do is shed blood, and we do so because we’re “Islamic extremists.”

What a horrible, distorted view. The amount of truth in it is no more than the number of words on a blank sheet of paper. I feel extremely sorry, for the part of the world that believes that we are the wrongdoers. I have always believed that actions can be separated from the intention. But today I realized how wrong I was. Intentions are always what fuel disasters such as the one I am barely alive to see right now. It is the mindset. It is the ignorance and the hatred; the emotions which shut off our humanity.  They are what fuse to create the evil, growing within the boundaries of the Earth. Somehow, the world will pay for what they have allowed them to do to us. And when they realize how wrong their claims were against us, it will be too late.

God knows we are not the enemy. We are just like everyone else. We breathe, we laugh, we smile. We have jobs, we go to work, we celebrate birthday’s and shed tears over death. We have a beautiful religion, which promotes peace and happiness. We are human beings.

148 terrorists.

Congratulations world! You got rid of 148 terrorists today. And they were children, too. One terrorist was excited to go home and watch some TV. Another was studying for a mathematics test. One terrorist was eating the lunch her mom lovingly packed for her this morning.

148 terrorists.

It baffles me how the media allows the vulnerable people of Middle Eastern Islamic countries to be attacked and criticized for being terrorists. The real terror is in blaming an entire faith for the heinous and disturbed crimes of a select few, who are wrongfully committing murder in the name of religion. The people that commit these crimes should be punished, but not the religion they claim to be “fighting” for. Islam is a religion of peace and tranquility. “If you take the life of another unjustly, it is as if you have killed all of mankind” is the philosophy it preaches. People who use the life God has provided for them to take the lives of others have no right to claim a religion. No religion allows murder. These horrible people will pray for their crimes. and I know Islam will one day stop having to take the blame. One day, we will see the light of day, though right now we are forced to live in the darkness.

148 terrorists.

I hope someone comes for me. I can’t get up on my own. Even if I wanted to, my body is too weak to pull my legs up. I think I urinated. My dress-pants are sticking to my thighs and they’ve been stained by something dark and wet. And even though an hour ago this would have been the most embarrassing state I’ve ever been in, it is the only state that proves how alive I really am in this moment.

148 terrorists.

Mama and Papa, I am sorry I had to be a product of what these horrible people did to our country, our people, our religion, and our world. I hope I see you in Heaven, where everything is light, and everything is bright. The place where everything is perfect, and everything is right. I love you. Tell the world our story. We are not the terrorists.

Written by Hareem Ashraf

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