Anger over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America has delivered a double blow to one group of Americans–Muslim-Americans.
With blame continuing to point to militant Muslims linked to Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden, Muslim-Americans have already suffered retaliatory actions by some who are taking out their anger and hatred on their fellow Americans.
“Arab Americans, in addition to feeling the intense depths of pain and anger at this attack we share with all our fellow citizens, are feeling deep anxiety about becoming the targets of anger from other Americans,” Ziad Asali, president of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, told Associated Press. “We appeal to all Americans to bear in mind that crimes are the responsibility of the individuals who committed them, not ethnic or religious groups.”
Many angry Americans are seeking to exact their revenge on members of their community instead of rallying together to support the government’s investigation into punishing the true masterminds behind Tuesday’s terrorist acts.
Three hundred marchers in a Chicago suburb were turned back by police after they tried to move on a local mosque, according to USA Today.
In other parts of the country, bricks and bullets have found their way into the windows and facades of mosques. A mosque near the nation’s capitol was defaced with obscene graffiti, and in San Francisco, a bag of pig’s blood was left on the doorstep of an Islamic community center, USA Today reported.
Threatening phone calls and e-mails, spitting, jeering and even beatings have fueled Muslim-Americans’ fears that they will continue to be targeted for crimes they openly condemn.
“It’s appropriate to be angry, but it’s not appropriate to scapegoat against people who had nothing to do with that just because of ethnicity,” the Rev. Larry D. Spencer, a Presbyterian minister and former executive director of the Greater Dallas Community of Churches, told the Dallas Morning News.
Spencer joined 20 Dallas-area clergy in expressing sorrow for Tuesday’s attacks and calling for “restraint on the part of those who wanted to seek revenge,” the Morning News reported.
“If one Christian bigot commits a crime, that doesn’t make all Christians criminals,” Mahdi Bray, president of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations, told the Washington Post. “Just the fact that one Muslim group may have committed this criminal act doesn’t mean all Muslims are supportive.”
Many Muslim-American leaders are calling on Muslims to donate blood, give money and offer services to help aid victims of Tuesday’s horrific attack.
“This is a deplorable attack beyond imagination, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with all Americans in bringing the perpetrators to justice,” Salem Al Marayati, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told the Post. “We offer our condolences and any other kind of resources we can to support the victims of these attacks.”
In response to unjust attacks against Muslim-Americans, many Muslim schools, community centers and places of worship have closed or are under tight security.
The Brighter Horizons Islamic School in Richardson, Texas, Al Huda School in Silver Spring near Washington, D.C., the Washington Islamic Academy and other Islamic school across the country have closed their doors for fear students may be targets of irrational hatred, or even worse, violence.
Muslim women who wear hijab, the Islamic headscarves, have been advised by some Islamic leaders to remain at home. The Post reported that female university students who wear the tradition Muslim dress have decided not to attend classes in many cities.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a resolution, 98-0, condemning violence and discrimination against Arab-Americans, and President Bush has called Americans to be tolerant, USA Today reported.
In light of attacks on Muslim citizens in his state and around the country, Illinois Gov. George Ryan told AP, “The terrorists who committed these horrible acts would like nothing better than to see us tear at the fiber of our democracy and to trample on the rights of other Americans.”
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.