1. ARABS, MUSLIMS, ALSO BURIED UNDER NEW YORK RUBBLE
[Middle East News Online - Sept. 14, 2001]
NEW YORK -- Nissam Hafiz is an Arab-American. Like thousands of American
victims, he is buried under the rubble of the towers of the World Trade Center. Hafiz's sister stands somewhere close to the rescue operation in New York holding tight to her brother's picture, asking people: "have you seen this man?"
Waleed Iskandar and Gerges Hashem, both Arab-Americans from Lebanon, have also been confirmed dead; they were passengers on American Airlines
Flight 11 that crashed into Tower One of the World Trade Center.
Hashem, a 37-year-old resident of Boston, was a product manager at the Teradyne Company. He left Lebanon some three decades ago, but visited the country regularly. He was married to Rita Hashem, and the couple have two children.
Iskandar, 34, and his South African fiancée, had arranged to travel to the Los Angeles area to meet Iskandar's parents. Iskandar, who resided in London where he worked for the Monitor consulting firm, had been in the Boston area for three days visiting his brother.
But the Hafiz, Iskandar and Hashem family's other tragedy, besides the grievous loss of their sons, is the fact that they -- like millions of Muslims and Arabs in the U.S. -- are being made scapegoats of Americans who want to vent their anger.
"I just don't understand this," an Arab-American university student told Middle East News Online. "We are part of this tragedy, we are buried under the rubble, we are sharing our blood with the survivors, we are helping in the rescue efforts, we are praying for the victims' families, we're raising American flags over our houses, and shedding tears while watching the horrific scenes on television... But here we are, standing alone, facing the hate of millions who, rather than searching for the real criminals, chase after innocent Americans for simply being of a different background or a different faith."
The Washington Post reported that at least 100 Muslim organizations (to date) in the United States have reported hate crimes and harassment. In the Washington D.C. area, two mosques and a bookstore were vandalized. In New York, a man pointed a gun at an Arab gas station attendant, threatening to shoot him. In Texas, assailants attacked a mosque with random gunfire.
Considering the large number of Muslims and Arabs living and working in the New York area, it is expected that a significant number of them have lost their lives or are still buried under the rubble.
Muslim groups are expressing their disappointment that the major media and many segments of U.S. society have tried -- through their words and public behaviour -- to segregate and strip them of their proud identity as Americans, simply for being of Arab origin or professing the Islamic faith.
Meanwhile, Nissam Hafiz's family and dozens of other Muslim and Arab
families continue to wait -- along with grieving relatives and friends of victims who came here from more than three dozen different nations. they all wait to hear of the fate of their loved ones.
How can they be victims of terrorism themselves and yet be accused, whether openly or subtly, of also being co-perpetrators. No one seems to have an answer. Because we should not have to ask such a cruel question.
The Canadian Islamic Congress