Muslims Say Fellow Americans are Lashing Out



Law-enforcement officials in the U.S. say they've seen an increase in hate
crimes as Muslims grapple with harassment believed to have been prompted by
beheadings in Iraq, Saudi Arabia

Through all the tense moments since the Sept. 11 attacks, Samar Jarrah
thought her small Islamic community in Port Charlotte, Fla., had remained
at peace with its non-Muslim neighbors.

The town's Muslim doctors often treat homeless and impoverished immigrants
free of charge. And Jarrah went out of her way to teach residents about
Islam, sometimes giving talks two or three times a week in synagogues and
churches.

But three weeks ago, a caller left a message on the mosque's answering
machine at the Islamic Community of Southwest Florida, shattering the
perception of harmony with the community: "You barbarians. Lucky to be
alive." Then the caller warned that if any attacks occurred in the United
States, he would retaliate.

Since Islamic extremists began beheading foreigners in the Middle East two
months ago, a spate of hate crimes against Muslims has emerged, said
law-enforcement officials and Islamic leaders, sparking renewed fears among
American Muslims who believed they had made progress in enlightening
Americans about their religion after Sept. 11, 2001...

Whether it is a telephone threat, graffiti scrawled on a Muslim's house, or
menacing e-mail messages sent to Islamic organizations, Muslims fear this
wave of harassment is different from those in the past. Not only are
American Muslims being blamed for extremists' attacks a world away, but
there is a feeling that even some Americans who tried not to generalize
about Islam now are turning against the community...

Annual reports by law-enforcement agencies and Islamic organizations
indicate that hate crimes have been on the rise since Sept. 11, 2001.
Muslims in the U.S. reported more than 1,000 incidents of alleged
harassment, violence and discrimination in 2003, an increase of 70 percent
over 2002, according to a study released in May by the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, a national group based in Washington,
D.C.

 


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