Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Aladdin Elaasar: Chicago author on 9/11 aftermath

The Silent Victims of Sept. 11:
Untold stories of brave American Arabs and Muslims

By Aladdin Elaasar

Monterey, CA, Sept. 6, 2006 // Permission granted to reprint

The anniversary of Sept. 11 will be painful for Arab and Muslim-Americans - as it will be for all Americans.

After the terrorist strikes, Arab and Muslim-Americans became targets for random hate and violence. They became the latest ethnic group to be singled out in an American time of crisis.

During World War I, German immigrants were suspect.

During World War II, Americans of Japanese backgrounds bore the brunt of that conflict.

About 3 million Arab-Americans and 7 million Muslim-Americans live in the United States. Sept. 11 has had a negative effect on many of them. Some have paid a hefty price, dealing with discrimination at schools and at the workplace, and even facing senseless and brutal hate crimes that have led to injury and death.

According to government statistics, hate crimes and discriminatory acts against Arab-Americans, Muslim-Americans or those perceived to be of Middle Eastern origins in the United States rose dramatically after Sept. 11.

Some in position of influence in the media or in the religious sector fanned these acts of hatred. On Sept. 13, 2001, columnist Ann Coulter, on National Review Online, said: "We should invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

Televangelist Pat Robertson called Muslims "worse than Nazis." The Rev. Jerry Falwell labeled the Prophet Muhammad a "terrorist." The Rev. Franklin Graham called Islam "a very evil and wicked religion."

Fear spread through the Arab-American and Muslim-American communities.

The USA Patriot Act diminished the rights of immigrants and allowed the government to round up people by the hundreds and keep them, in secret, from their families.

The special registration of Arab and Muslim males in America terrified communities and broke up families, as some fathers were deported on the most minor technicalities.

Fear still pervades the Muslim-American and Arab-American communities. The horrific acts of terrorism by the Sept. 11 fanatics should not impugn the patriotism of these communities.

In the wake of Sept. 11, thousands of Arab and Muslim-Americans volunteered to serve in the U.S. armed services or in law enforcement. They are protecting us. And they should be thanked, not feared or scapegoated.

Five years later, we must not let fear cripple us as a nation.


Aladdin Elaasar is author of "Silent Victims: The Plight of Arab & Muslim Americans in Post 9/11 America".

For more info, please contact:
Aladdin Elaasar
1042 Forest Ave., Apt. # 6
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
Call 847 668-4206