The end of the deal may have cooled a firestorm on Capitol Hill, but it left Arab-Americans and Muslim advocacy groups alarmed at what they called the triumph of intolerance.
“If it’s a victory, it’s a victory for bigotry and Islamophobia,” said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The debacle has been a wake-up call for the Bush administration on how difficult it is to counter public stereotypes in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, said Shibley Telhami, a Middle East specialist at the University of Maryland, College Park.
“There’s a mood in the country that has been allowed to take hold over the past four years to be very suspicious of Arabs and Muslims broadly, even as the government was continuing to say, ‘Look, terrorism is limited to a few, and we know that most Arabs and Muslims are not [terrorists],”‘ Telhami said. “That hasn’t taken hold on the public psyche.”
The Dubai Ports chapter will cause pro-American governments in the Arab world – not just the United Arab Emirates, but Qatar, Bahrain and others – to rethink their relationships with the United States, Telhami added.
“They were in some ways stunned to see that people don’t perceive them positively,” he said. “Many of them are going to take a deep breath and think about this a little bit.”