She dreamed of being a diplomat

Sabika Sheikh’s funeral was yesterday.

Sabika, 17, dreamed of being a diplomat, of working to empower women. A Muslim exchange student from Karachi, Pakistan, she had come to the United States through a State Department-funded study program, excited to leave behind the dangers posed by extremists at home to experience a country that represented all that was possible.

Outside the mosque here, long before hundreds of people gathered to mourn, two men wondered what had become of America, their adopted homeland.

“I’m aghast,” said Abdul Khatri, 60. “People come here because they are told there is peace here. You have the right to be protected here. It’s why I came. But to have this happen not in India or Pakistan, but here? We have gotten off track. And it’s been going on too long.”

“Too long,” the other man lamented. “I agree. Too long. But what will we do?”

There it’s suicide bombers, here it’s suicide and non-suicide shooters. Neither one is a very appealing choice. Both are shameful.

The mourners poured into the Masjid Sabireen mosque in this small town about 35 miles from Santa Fe, removing their shoes before stepping inside. Several students from Santa Fe High made the trip. So did Houston’s mayor and two members of Congress. The mayor of tiny Stafford sat down and hurriedly pulled out his phone.

“Can you please make sure all flags in town are flown at [half-staff],” Mayor Leonard Scarcella said into his phone. “Tell him it’s urgent.”

Sabika’s host family from Santa Fe arrived, six children in tow, the mother covering her blond hair with the red prayer shawl she’d received as a Mother’s Day gift from Sabika.

Excuse me a minute. Dusty in here.

Earlier at Arcadia First Baptist Church of Santa Fe, with Abbott in attendance, pastor Jerl Watkins tried to comfort the members of his congregation by telling them that prayer and acceptance of Christian values are the things that will heal this community.

But they aren’t. Plenty of Christians are fanatically pro-gun. Now if by “Christian values” you mean what Bishop Michael Curry talked about on Saturday then – after I point out they’re secular values too – I can agree, but unfortunately not all Christians do see love as the all-important thing.

Then he went on to rant about abortion, so forget it.

Several parishioners told Abbott they were glad he’s not rushing to implement new laws or restrictions on firearms after the shooting, during which a 17-year-old student allegedly gunned down eight students and two teachers with a shotgun and a pistol that police said belonged to his father.

Yes, that’s the important thing, not restricting guns.

I wish Sabika Sheikh were alive and well and looking forward to going home in a few weeks.

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