When Rascha Anayah first heard about a program to bring together Japanese American and Muslim high-school students, she thought “weird.” But in a good way.
“You never hear about Japanese and Muslim people getting together and talking,” said the 16-year-old Palestinian-American from Danville. “It’s weird, it’s different.”
The Bridging Communities program was created three years ago by the Los Angeles chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League out of concern that Muslims were struggling with some of the same burdens Japanese faced in the years after the Pearl Harbor bombing.
Funded by a $150,000 grant from the National Park Service, the project is co-run with the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress.
While organizers acknowledge the Japanese experience during WWII – when more than 100,000 were forced into camps – was much more intense than what Muslims have faced in a post-9/11 world, they say there are similarities in the fear and suspicion aimed at a specific group during wartime. (More)