Local News

Triangle Arab-Americans, Muslims Fear For Safety After Tuesday's Attacks

Posted September 13, 2001

— Today's tragedy stirs a wide range of emotions -- fear, sadness, shock and anger. While most Americans are pulling together in the crisis, some Triangle Arab-Americans and Muslims say they now fear for their safety.

When the pictures of terrorism reached American homes, speculation soon started on where to target the blame. Rania Masri, an Arab-American who grew up in Raleigh, condemns the killing and she worries about the repercussions for other innocent people.

"When one member of a minority community in this country is targeted or accused, it seems like that whole community is then put on the defensive," she says.

Oliver Muhammad, the leader of the Assalaam Islamic Center in Raleigh, says he is concerned that pictures that show Palestinians celebrating the tragedy will cause Americans to unfairly target Muslims. He says it happened to several students in Raleigh Tuesday afternoon.

"Some students had spit at them and some Muslim girls were wearing their scarves, and they were assaulted by pulling at their scarves," he says.

Muhammad says, like all Americans, Muslims are mourning the incredible loss.

"Our prayers are for the victims and their families and it's just horrible. This has been a numbing day," he says.

Angry calls, drive-by racist comments and bomb threats forced the Islamic Association and Al Iman School in Raleigh to shut down Tuesday.

"We feel the sorrow of the nation and the problems the nation is having today and at the same time, we are getting it from ignorant people that we are almost like the perpetrators of these crimes," says Mohamed Boutrid of the Islamic Association.

"A lot of women who dress in the traditional Muslim dress have been verbally attacked or spat on by people and there's no justification for that whatsoever," Masri says.

Boutrid and Masri both point out that they saw similar reaction after the Oklahoma City bombing -- a case where a Gulf War veteran, not a Muslim, was responsible.

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