Just a few notes from Popal’s rampage

I haven’t forgotten the Popal rampage, and thought I’d update you on a couple of stories that are still filtering through.

First, the tragedy: Popal’s rampage left a 43 year old woman a quadriplegic:

It was Susan Rajic’s birthday Friday. The 43-year-old massage therapist was supposed to go out to dinner to celebrate with friends in San Francisco, the city where she had moved from Puerto Vallarta just last month.

But Rajic — who came to the city in part because she loved to walk — now lies paralyzed from the neck down in a San Francisco General Hospital bed, the most severely injured of the 19 people hurt in a hit-and-run rampage Tuesday that also killed a Fremont man.

The driver who allegedly struck Rajic, 29-year-old Omeed Aziz Popal of Fremont, faces one count of murder, 18 counts of attempted murder and other felonies. Popal is being housed in the psychiatric jail ward of the same hospital where doctors are treating Rajic.

Doctors have told her family and friends that the sport utility vehicle that hit Rajic and threw her against a parked car broke her neck and that it is unlikely she will ever walk again. The Honda Pilot struck her as she crossed California at Laurel Street about 1 p.m. near her home.

Rajic has some sensation in her hands and shoulders, but she is unable to move her fingers and has no movement or feeling in her legs, doctors say. She underwent a 4 1/2-hour operation Wednesday in which doctors removed a portion of her hip bone and used it to bridge a gap where they had to remove a vertebrae that was pressing on her spinal cord.

My very deepest sympathy to Ms. Rajic, and my best wishes to her as she adjusts to a very different new phase of her life.

Second, the local Afghan community is denying that Islam has anything to do with Popal’s acts, a view that deserves some respect pending more information about Popal himself. What’s startling about the report I read is that one prominent Afghan/Muslim community spokesperson has acknowledged that it’s not unreasonable or racist for Americans to be questioning whether there is a religious component to Popal’s acts:

Rona Murtaza Popal, president of the Afghan Women’s Association, who is not related to Omeeda Popal, said the increased scrutiny has led members of the Afghan Coalition, an umbrella organization of local Afghan groups, to plan a news conference to discuss some of the issues facing the local Afghan community.

But Popal wants to know the motive before making a public statement about the case. And like members of the media, she has had little success in contacting the victim’s parents.

“Afghans are extremely afraid,” Popal said. “After 9/11, people didn’t want to leave their homes. We don’t want these incidents to happen. We came here because we wanted to be safe.”

Still, Popal said, she understands the fears about domestic terrorism.

“I don’t blame them. I understand how they feel,” she said when asked to respond to the online comments. “In Afghanistan, we lived in fear of terrorism. That’s why we left.”

It’s actually striking in today’s news climate to hear this open admission that it’s reasonable to be afraid of Muslims.  The opposite and dominant view (which Ms. England stated and Best of the Web skewered) is that we’re utterly irrational to be afraid of Muslims and that it’s our fear that is damaging these fragile souls so much that they’re impelled to go on murderous rampages.

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  1. Ymarsakar says

    Guilty by reasoning of insanity. For some weird quirk of a reason, we have innocent by reasoning of insanity, when in effect, people who are mentally imbalanced are more dangerous than murderers and predictable sociopaths. They can’t be left out in society, free or alive, not because we know what they will do, but precisely because we don’t. Thus it becomes a threat with no counter outside of permanent death, disability, or imprisonment of the guilty party.

    Ms. England doesn’t understand what goes on in a aggressive person’s head, she doesn’t know why people kill and for what reasons, nor does she know why people risk their lives for certain goals and objects.

    Without understanding the basic motivation and behavioral patterns of all humans, there is little that can be done to formulate correct policy and behavior.

  2. says

    This act of domestic terrorism must stop. We don’t want a repeat of what happened to a good woman like Susan Rajic. It makes me extremely angry when people from Afghanistan try and defend Islam from terrorism when in fact there has been repeated proofs as documented by Islamic militants – Al Qaida and others. I want our president to be aware that the terrorism on US soil is becoming more frequent since the Columbine Shooting that happened many years ago in Colorado. And the fact that because of Al Qaida’s continual existence, many Muslims are being more inclined to join their unjust lawlessness in the US to kill or commit mayhem in a place like San Francisco. This makes me so mad that I don’t know what in the hell is wrong with our response to terrorism in the US. Wasn’t our President in his right mind when he became involved in Iraq that the risk of enabling terrorism to exist in the US was the result of his interference in Iraq? I’d like to know in the future how our President will address terrorism in the US and to inform us that it is not tolerable to see the act of bombing, hit and run, shooting and the like happen to familiar cities, in Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California. I feel frustrated our President doesn’t address the existence of terrorism in American cities or by refusing to understand what is happening when the situation in Iraq is being favored over the situation in America. I have a feeling that he doesn’t really care about us, and our fellow Americans as they are being at risk of being attacked by some crazy idiots who wants to go around killing and committing an act of terrorism. Mr. Popal is that sad example of terrorism in a form of a typical hit and run accident. Maybe its time that the incident with a current terrorist attack on Amish children in an Amish community will wake him up.

  3. says

    There are a lot of people who feel as frustrated as you do, Anne. Cheer up, in two years, Bush will be gone and then we can roll the dice to see what fate has in store for the United States fuiture and the future of the Executive Branch.

    It is bitterly ironic that the United States Marine Corps is prevented by law from protecting American civilians in almost 99% of the cases. While at the same time, foreigners get the benefit of the Marines power and friendship.

    No gang, criminal organization, or domestic terrorist cell can stand up to the Marine Corps in conjunction with the FBI.

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