In the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the nation has both pulled together and pulled apart.
Since Sept. 11 there have been nationwide reports of ethnic intimidation directed toward Islamic and Arabic Americans. To date, the Council on Islamic-American Relations has documented 542 cases.
|Internet message boards are filled with postings that state, “Islam = hate cult” and “take out every single Islamic fundamentalist there is. Period. Kill ’em all. Every single one.”|
Internet message boards are filled with postings that state, “Islam = hate cult” and “take out every single Islamic fundamentalist there is. Period. Kill ’em all. Every single one.”
Last week, the Islamic Institute of New York received calls threatening to harm its 450 students. Halfway across the country, protesters firebombed a mosque in a Texas suburb. In Wyoming a Pakistani woman and her children were chased from a Wal-Mart.
While being arrested for the first-degree murder of an Indian immigrant an Arizona man shouted, “I stand for America all the way,” according to a report in The Atlanta Journal and Constitution.
Both the Muslim Student Association and the Arab Student Society released statements condemning the attacks and asked for unity among all Americans.
In preparation, the MSA has created incident reports for students who think they may have been the victim of ethnic intimidation.
“We’re hoping we don’t get a lot, but if we do, we won’t be surprised,” said MSA President Quaiser Abdullah.
The MSA has started scheduling events to aid in the relief effort.
“We are getting together and organizing… whatever we can do as a university to offer assistance,” said Abdullah.
The MSA is in preliminary stages of working with Host for Hospitals, a network of volunteers who offer rooms to families of displaced patients. Also, the MSA has both a blood and canned food drive in the works.
“In no way or form does Islam condone killing. Nor do we support powers taking up arms to wage war against any nation, the U.S. or otherwise,” said Abdullah. “Vigilantism is something we do not stand by.”
|“We’re Americans too and just when we started to feel native, suddenly we’ve gone back a number of years and we’re just as foreign again. The attacks weren’t Islamic and do not represent Islam.”
A third year pre-med student
The MSA canceled their welcome back dinner, scheduled for Sept. 14, out of respect for the victims of the attacks.
In a statement released Tuesday night University President David Adamany said, “Now is a good time to remind ourselves of a basic American principle: responsibility is individual.”
“We cannot tolerate any acts of prejudice against any member of the University.”
But is has already started. The MSA has received reports from students who had racial slurs yelled and rocks thrown at them. An Islamic girl had her hijab, a traditional head covering, pulled off while walking to class. Others reported seeing “Muslims die” written inside an elevator in Ritter Hall.
Abdullah said most students never report these crimes out of fear of retaliation.
“We’re Americans too and just when we started to feel native, suddenly we’ve gone back a number of years and we’re just as foreign again,” said third year pre-med student, Jawaad Mohiuddin. “Timothy McVeigh was Catholic and what about the boys who bombed their school? It wasn’t an issue of religion then. [The attacks] weren’t Islamic and do not represent Islam.”
“At first you think [about the attacks] ‘This is horrible,’ just like everyone else in the country. In that sense you’re American. We were born and raised here. We look at ourselves as being American and being attacked too,” said second year medical student, Mateen Khan.
Abdullah explained that Islam teaches its followers to avoid conflict and physical confrontation. There are rules when Muslims fight in a war: they cannot kill women, children, the elderly, holy men, plants, animals or destroy places of worship. Also, when an opponent surrenders, the fighting must stop.
He called the acts “immoral and unacceptable. Anything that causes mass destruction of this magnitude, we do not support.”
“America is one of the most racist and xenophobic nations. [Americans] mask their true feelings and when something like this happens, it all comes out,” said second year law student, Umar Abdur-Rahman.
The Pennsylvania Hate-Crimes Law covers any act of vandalism that may be considered racially motivated or used as a means of ethnic intimidation. The law, signed into effect in June 1982, includes damage done to any places of worship, cemeteries, educational facilities and government buildings.
Under the law, a person may be convicted of a third-degree felony charge if the act was meant to outrage all who saw it or the property damage exceeded $5,000.
In response, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has arranged a toll-free number to report hate crimes. Call 1-800-552-6842.