RELIGION

How 'Serial' Helped Humanize Muslims For A Mass Audience

FILE -In this  Dec. 10, 2014 file photo, Prison artwork created by Adnan Syed sits near family photos in the home of his moth
FILE -In this Dec. 10, 2014 file photo, Prison artwork created by Adnan Syed sits near family photos in the home of his mother, Shamim Syed, in Baltimore. Syed, the subject of the popular podcast “Serial” will be allowed to appeal his murder conviction, a Maryland court has ruled. Adnan Syed, 34, was convicted in 2000 of strangling his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, the year prior, when both were high school students in suburban Baltimore. “Serial” examined the case in detail and raised questions about Syed’s guilt and whether he received a fair trial. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

I was worried about Serial. Even before I knew it would be a series, I was worried that the same anti-Muslim bigotry that had colored this murder case fifteen years ago would again be front and center when the world considered the State vs. Adnan Syed.

In 1999 Adnan, the subject of Serial, was arrested for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. A 17-year-old American boy of Pakistani descent, Adnan was my younger brother’s best friend. Adnan also came from a close-knit Muslim community in Baltimore, and a deeply faithful family.

Adnan was a typical teenager. He was Homecoming King, a football and track athlete, and an honor roll student. And he was also dating, smoking weed, drinking, and hiding things from his parents. He lived the life the children of many immigrant and religious families often do. He was not a devout, observant Muslim as a teenager (how many teenagers are that deeply religious?), and he had last visited Pakistan as a ten year old. He could barely speak Pashto, the language of his parents

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