Arab Americans Become Targets of New Wave of Hate Crimes

Arab Americans and American Muslims in the United States have become targets of a new wave of hate crimes since Tuesday's terror attacks that killed thousands of people in Washington and New York.

Across the country, from New Jersey to California, Arab Americans and Muslims reported a sharp rise in hate incidents in the past days, including verbal abuse, vandalism and death threats, according to local media reports.

Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington are widely suspected to be worked out by Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile who is wanted by Washington for a series of terrorist attacks targeting US interests.

In Los Angeles, where there is a large Muslim population, police have already received reports of 11 hate incidents against Muslims, four of which classified as hate crimes. In one case, one man pointed his gun to a Muslim woman's face and the Southern California Islamic Center also received a phone call of threat.

Another hate crime was reported at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, in which two suspects wrote "die" on a Persian Club booth on campus. At the University of Southern California, some Muslim students have been harassed and some Muslim women have had their veils pulled off.

In San Francisco, California, one man threw a bag filled with blood at the door of a building he thought was an Islamic community center. The name of Osama bin Laden was scrawled on the bag. The Granada Islamic School in Santa Clara remained closed for the week after receiving threats.

In Seattle, an armed man was arrested after allegedly trying to set fire to a mosque. A mosque in Denton, Texas, was firebombed and another in Lynnwood, Washington, was splattered with black paint.

Early Friday, a man was arrested after ramming his car into the Islamic Center of Evansville, Indiana.

In Virginia, a woman was charged with threatening to bomb a Hampton mosque, while police in Salt Lake City beefed up patrols after a man allegedly tried to burn down a Pakistani-owned restaurant.

Aware of the danger of dividing the nation at a time of national disaster, President George W. Bush and other political leaders have repeatedly called for unity and urged the public to refrain from venting their anger toward the nation's Muslim population.

But even before Tuesday's terror attacks, racial discrimination and hate crimes against minorities have never ceased in the US, a country which styles itself the "defender of freedom and democracy." And in view of the high apprehension in local communities, it will take a longer time to heal the wounds caused by the latest developments in the country.

People's Daily Online ---