Muslim backlash continues
By Jim Avilla, MSNBC News, 20 September 2001
Sept. 20 —  One of the ugliest legacies of this crisis is home grown: the surge of intolerance and hate crimes against Muslims and people mistaken for them. There are about six million Muslims in America, many of them born here. And right now, they are are very anxious.

THE two buildings, now rubble, truly were World Trade Centers. It was a multicultural city with more than 1700 workers of Islamic heritage — Arab-Americans who are now victims of both hate and terror.

At ground zero we’ve seen the best of America, but hate has brought out the worst as well. Muslim organizations count more than 400 hate crimes since the attack. Even Sikhs — who have no religious affiliation with Islam, but wear turbans — report 200 incidents of violent bigotry.

On Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue, where New York’s Arab-Americans look east to Mecca, and west to Manhattan’s gutted southern tip, most Muslims neither condone nor understand the terrorism at the hands of suspected Islamic extremists.

“It doesn’t say anywhere in Islam to go blow up 5,000 innocent people,” says Shekaiba Wakili of Women for Afghan Women. “And they don’t know their religion unfortunately.”

Now, some Muslims are afraid to leave their homes because of hate crimes and backlash insults.

The Justice Department reports 55 open investigations including allegations of three murders, arson, shootings, and vandalism.

“I’m hiding in my house in the heart of an Arab neighborhood in Brooklyn,” says Fariba Nawa.

Nawa, an Afghan-American student, wrote an essay about her fears, “Under Attack by Terrorists and Americans.”
 And Muslims are not just hate victims — nearly a thousand are among the dead and missing.

“People lose all sense and just want to attack, says Nawa. “We unite as Americans, but that is the dark side of unity. You sort of need a face and a group to hate.”

How bad is it? Congressman John Cooskey, R-LA, apologized Thursday for his remark that, “If I see someone that comes in that’s got a diaper on his head and a fan belt wrapped around the diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over and checked.”

And Muslims are not just hate victims — nearly a thousand are among the dead and missing.

“I’m a mother and I am suffering very much,” says Tahira Khan.

Taimour Khan, a 29-year-old Pakistani-American bond trader, is still missing from his 92nd floor office at the World Trade Center.
 
“This is a time of pain and sorrow and hurt for America,” says his mother. “Not only for the ones who have lost, but for everyone. Please don’t judge people on their religion or color or race, let’s get together.”

In Boston, Rahma Salie and her husband, Michael, are confirmed dead. They were passengers aboard hijacked American Airlines flight 11. She was seven months pregnant.

“I would like everyone to know that she was a Muslim, she is a Muslim and we are victims too, of this tragic incident,” says Haleema Salie, Rahma’s mother.

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