The knock on his neighbor’s door upset Niaz Hussain the most.
More than the invasive questions about which mosque he attends and his
level of religious observance, the FBI’s accidental visit to the house next
door left the Pakistani native feeling the sting of humiliation.
“They look at me very, very funny any time I’m walking by,” Hussain said of
the family that lives next to him in Berwyn. “They look at me like, ‘Why is
the FBI after me?’ The whole neighborhood looks at me funny.”
In the spotlight again amid heightened terror alerts, revelations of
government efforts to track them and high-profile arrests, Arabs and
Muslims in the U.S. are feeling the pinch of negative publicity and
wondering if they will ever stop feeling like they are under a microscope.
In the last few weeks, police have arrested several Muslims in separate
alleged terror-related incidents. The most recent high-profile arrest came
Friday in Chicago, when Muhammad Salah, 51, of Bridgeview was charged,
along with two other men, with helping to raise money for Hamas, a militant
Islamist Palestinian group based in the Gaza Strip.
And the FBI has intensified voluntary interviews of Arabs and Muslims in
advance of the November elections.
Even more troubling to activists, the U.S. Census Bureau twice gave
demographic information about Arabs–including ZIP codes and nations of
origin–to the Department of Homeland Security, officials acknowledged in
July. The revelation sent shivers up spines in a community already fearful
of being rounded up like Japanese-Americans were during World War II..