Thursday, September 13, 2001

America Attacked

Island groups urge
tolerance toward
Arabs and Muslims

Mainland reports of violence
against Muslims cause worry

By Treena Shapiro and Mary Adamski |

Japanese Americans who were the targets of hate and harassment after the attack on Pearl Harbor urged that Americans not repeat that injustice by making Arabs and Muslims the scapegoats in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

"While we are united in a sense of outrage at those who committed these heinous acts, the Japanese American Citizens League is deeply alarmed over reports that Arab Americans and Muslims have already been targeted and mistreated by their fellow Americans," Allison Tanaka, president of the group's Honolulu chapter, said yesterday.

"These events must not lead to singling out the Arab-American community," she said. "This would apply to random acts of intolerance and any overreaction or selective treatment by investigative agencies that bear on the civil rights of citizens and residents."

Local Muslims have not experienced the backlash of violence and harassment that have been reported elsewhere. Hakim Ouansafi, president and chairman of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, said he heard from only one member who was on the receiving end of belligerent comments.

"It shows that people are intelligent enough to recognize the acts are the work of criminals. The violence affected all of us -- Muslims, Christians, Jews, all groups," Ouansafi said. He said there are about 3,000 Muslims in Hawaii.

Muslim-American groups around the nation report scattered acts of abuse, vandalism and death threats following the terrorist attacks. Some Americans are damaging Muslim places of worship or threatening men who look Middle Eastern and women who wear Islamic headdresses, Islamic leaders said. Bullets shattered the windows of the Islamic Center of Irving, Texas, yesterday, causing about $3,000 in damage. The building was empty and no one was hurt.

Someone broke into the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, a mosque near Sterling, Va., and painted obscene graffiti in the worship hall and on the outside of the building. Windows were reported shattered at mosques in San Francisco and Carrollton, Texas.

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Americans of Japanese ancestry became targets, Tanaka said. "The press, politicians and certain segments of the public ruled that Americans of Japanese ancestry were guilty by reason of their race. Americans of Japanese ancestry were perceived as the enemy. Their homes and businesses became the targets of hate and vandalism, leading to their wholesale evacuation and incarceration without due process."

Some 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned at 10 U.S. camps.

The national Council on American-Islamic Relations issued guidelines for Muslims to avoid violence, including a recommendation that "those who wear Islamic attire should consider staying out of public areas for the immediate future" and that guards should be posted at mosque entrances and parking areas during prayer times.

The Scripps Howard News Service
contributed to this report.

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