Boston holds a special place in my heart. For a long time, I called it my earthly heaven. It's where I matured intellectually and emotionally, and where I started to shed my faith in man-made religion.
You will never see me defend religion on this blog, especially not Islam, the religion with which I grew up. Religions, in my opinion, deserve to be deconstructed and treated as man-made constructs, put in the context of history and never, ever, allowed to transpose values from a day long gone, to the present.
Watching the media coverage of the Boston bombings was painful at times. Not only because this is my home city in so many ways, but because of phrases like "motivated by religion" thrown around like the answer to age old questions about what motivates violence.
The two brothers were Muslim. They watched extremist videos. Therefore, they were motivated by Islam to blow up a child watching marathoners.
Such reductionist logic is especially hard to bear by someone, though divorced from the daily practice of religion, was raised to use religion as a force to be "good" to one's family and neighbors, and as a guide to surviving the demands of traditional society. Back when my relatives loosely inflicted religious deterrents on me, I was never told that I should harm people. Even when I got caught in the middle of a sectarian war, I don't think I ever thought the reason Christians were kidnapping my relatives, or Muslims bombing Christian neighborhoods, was because they differed on how Jesus was crucified.
My point is: I learned, early on, to pin it on the people reading the book, not the book itself.
This might not be the view of the majority of people, who like to categorize others by the religious views they hold, and judge them according to how they understand those views, which sometimes contradict their own. This applies to both sides of this unfortunate "conflict". You have Islamist extremists thinking they are doing God a favor by justifying murder using his alleged words. And you got people on the other side with their selective reading of history, blinded by their perceived intellectual advancement, ready to blame an entire religion for the fault of the few who lack non-religious justification for essentially man-inspired evil.
Blaming the Boston bombs on "religious motivation" only reinforces the ideas of the attackers. They espoused views that innocent civilians can be killed because they belonged to an evil nationality, or creed. So when we lump them with millions of others who have seen comparable tragedies, but who otherwise are peaceful, we prove the following true: that this world is nothing but tribes of differing faiths, and that thousands of years of technological advancement and sophisticated communications did little to erase human prejudice.
When even The Huffington Post, a publication representing both the best and worst of online media, sees no shame in advancing "motivated by religion" explanations, it becomes apparent that this so called global village is failing to support a universal set of values. And this could be because technology, instead of helping us empathize with each other, has turned us into lazy individuals who allow one man's reading of the book to dominate our understanding of what it means to be human.