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How 14th Amendment is Practically Applied

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Adnan Syed is the subject of the podcast “Serial.” This podcast discusses the murder of Hae Min Lee, for which Syed was convicted. The podcast discusses many reasons why Syed should not have been convicted of this crime, whether or not he committed it. The reason behind this is mostly a lack of evidence. This leads to the question, “Why did he get convicted if there was so little evidence?” Well, as briefly touched in episode ten, the answer appears to be Islamophobia. However, it is also seen that Syed was not the perfect child that his parents thought he was. His actions are the factors that must be looked at by juries, and not his religion or race. Adnan being a Muslim was a factor in his conviction, but less attention needs to be payed to his religion as a factor of the crime.

The 14th Amendment of the Constitution guarantees “equal protection of the laws.” A defendant accused of a crime must be judged in light of the admissible evidence, not on stereotypes about his background. Adnan was born on U.S. soil to immigrants from Pakistan. However, no matter where his parents came from, he is an American. Unfortunately, the record strongly suggests and nudges at the fact that the State of Maryland did not treat the defendant like an American when they had prosecuted him. We are forced to conclude that he was not tried solely on the evidence but also on his background, culture and race. In episode ten of Serial, the subject of Islamophobia is touched upon. It is easy to see why people might think that Adnan being a Muslim was a factor in his conviction. Vicki Walsh, the prosecutor during Adnan’s case, stated during the trial “Investigation reveals that he can tag resources from Pakistan as well. It’s our position your honor that if you issue a bail, then you are issuing him a passport under these circumstances to flee the country.” (Koenig) This shows that the prosecution used Adnan’s religion against him. Seeing as how he was convicted, this obviously worked. Adnan was not treated equally as an American should be. Less attention should have been paid to Adnan’s ethnicity so that he could have had a fair trial.

In episode six, Koenig talks to Adnan about the moment he was called by the police about Hae. In this episode, Adnan reveals details about himself that show he wasn’t as perfect as his parents believed. While he may just be living life as a teenager, it does prove that Adnan has a history of lying to authority figures. Adnan tells Koenig that, “I do remember that phone call and I do remember being high at the time because the craziest thing is to be high and have the police call your phone. I’ll never forget that.” (Koenig) Adnan telling Koenig that he was high is just one of the examples of the truth about Adnan contrasting from the narrative his parents believed. His actions should have been examined more than his race during the trial.

It might be said that Islamophobia had no standing in the trial, but this is easily seen as not true. The prosecutor specifically says that because he has family from Pakistan, he would be more likely to flee. This shows that the attitude of the prosecutor is specifically anti-Islamic. Adnan’s race had a large role in his conviction, but his actions should have been what was examined by the prosecution.

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