Racist reaction spreads

Barry Stoller bstoller at utopia2000.org
Thu Sep 13 07:14:29 MDT 2001

AP. 13 September 2001. Crowd in Ill. Protests at Mosque; Bus With Muslim
Children Stoned. Combined reports.

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (US) and BRISBANE (Australia) -- Backlash hit several
communities as federal officials said there was mounting evidence that
radical Muslims planned and carried out the terror attacks in New York
and Washington.

Police turned back 300 marchers -- some waving American flags and
shouting "USA! USA!" -- as they tried to march on a mosque in this
southwest Chicago suburb late Wednesday.

Three demonstrators were arrested, said Bridgeview Police Chief Charles
Chigas. There were no injuries and demonstrators were kept blocks from
the closed Muslim worship place.

"I'm proud to be American and I hate Arabs and I always have," said
19-year-old Colin Zaremba who marched with the group from Oak Lawn.

In Chicago, a Molotov cocktail was tossed Wednesday at an Arab-American
community center. No injuries were reported.

In the suburb of Palos Heights, a man was charged with a felony hate
crime for allegedly attacking a gas station attendant he believed was
Arab with the blunt end of a machete, Police Sgt. Dave Delaney said. The
attendant, who is Moroccan, did not seek treatment, Delaney said.

"The terrorists who committed these horrible acts would like nothing
better than to see us tear at the fiber of our democracy and to trample
on the rights of other Americans," Gov. George Ryan said.

In Huntington, N.Y., a 75-year-old man who was drunk tried to run over a
Pakistani woman in the parking lot of a shopping mall, police said. The
man, Adam Lang, then followed the woman into a store and threatened to
kill her for "destroying my country."

A man in a ski mask in Gary, Ind., fired a high-powered assault rifle at
a gas station where Hassan Awdah, a U.S. citizen born in Yemen, was
working Wednesday, the Post Tribune reported. Police were investigating
it as a hate crime.

"I lived in the Middle East for most of my life and have never seen
anything like this," Awdah said.

Tamara Alfson, an American working at the Kuwait Embassy in Washington,
D.C., spent Wednesday counseling frightened Kuwaiti students attending
schools across the United States.

"Some of them have already been harassed. People have been quite awful
to them," said Alfson, an academic adviser to roughly 150 students.

Abu Nahidian, director of the Manassas Mosque in Virginia, said his
congregation has been the target of insults and hate messages left on
the office answering machine.

"We have some recordings in our tapes that say, 'We hate you so-and-so
Muslims and we hope you die,'" Nahidian said.

A mosque in Lynnwood, Wash., was vandalized, and no one showed up for
afternoon prayers at the Islamic Center of Spokane.

In Dearborn, Mich., Issam Koussan told The Detroit News he bought large
U.S. flags to fly in front of his home and outside his supermarket after
men pulled into his parking lot and yelled threats and racial slurs at
his customers.

"I just feel I needed to show my loyalty to this country," Koussan said.

Meanwhile in Australia, a school bus carrying Muslim children was stoned
and vandals tried to set fire to a Lebanese church in apparent acts of
retaliation for terrorist attacks in the United States, officials said

Queensland state Islamic Council chairman Sultan Deen said stones and
bottles damaged the side of the bus Wednesday in the northeastern city
of Brisbane. Nobody was injured.

"The children are quite shaken up," Deen said.

Deen said public outrage over the attacks had also led to abusive phone
calls to mosques.

"It is very disturbing. They are saying things like, 'You will be held
responsible' and 'We'll get you,'" Deen said.

In Sydney overnight, vandals attempted to set fire to the St. Mary's
Antiochian Orthodox church -- which has a Lebanese congregation -- and
racist slurs and swastikas were scrawled on the walls of another
Lebanese church, said police inspector Norm Russell.

Meanwhile, pro-Islamic slogans were daubed on a building in Melbourne's
central business district overnight, police said.

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Barry Stoller

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