Sept. 11, 2001, ruptured 13-year-old Hamza Syed’s world. Being Muslim instantly became the only part of his identity that seemed to matter; kids at his school in Lynn besieged him with questions he could not answer. He had immigrated to the United States from Pakistan at age 3, but he no longer felt allowed to call himself American.
A year ago, after the Boston Marathon bombings, Syed braced himself for another anti-Muslim backlash. It never happened.
“I grew up being an outsider, feeling like an outsider, and there wasn’t any moment really after the Boston Marathon where I had that feeling of being an outsider again,” he said. “I grieved with everyone. . . . I could understand their feelings, and they could understand mine, without there being an asterisk next to it.”
On Monday, Syed expects to run the Boston Marathon for the first time, an act he sees as an expression of his love for his resilient city and for its embrace of diversity.
“That is what the Boston Marathon this year is really going to be about,” he said. “I want to say that I was there, that I took part in it.”
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