Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Muslim-Americans Fear Backlash From WTC Attack

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TWC News: Muslim-Americans Fear Backlash From WTC Attack
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New Yorkers have come together in these days since the terror attacks on the World Trade Center. Crime has dropped dramatically overall, but NY1 has heard stories of Muslims being harassed. NY1's J.D. LaRock spoke to Brooklyn residents who say they've been made to feel un-American, and he filed the following report.

At the Al-Medina Muslim School in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the faculty was discussing how to teach their students about the World Trade Center attack. But the teachers say they are also learning a lesson about discrimination.

"I went to put some gas in the car, and the guy in the car came in the Jeep and he started to scream at me," says Jasmina Zekic, a teacher at Al-Medina. "He said, 'I want to blow you up, I want to blow you up, your car and yourself.' And I was just quiet, and I didn't know why he came to me, and I realized because I have my veil he came."

The police commissioner says since last Tuesday, more than 50 Arabs, Muslims and South Asians have been the targets of bias attacks here in the city.

Some Muslim women say they're reluctant to go outside because their traditional dress is now making them walking targets.

"Being an American born and raised here, and then having all of a sudden the public attack you or point fingers at you or all of a sudden turn you into the enemy really hurts down inside, because I'm an American just like you are. I was raised here, I went to school here, I have dreams here, I have memories," says the school's assistant principal, Zenab Elkady.

In Bay Ridge, Dr. Mohammed Katee's dental practice has been in business for 12 years. Yet he says he and his secretaries have all been harassed, and much of his clientele - which is 70 percent Muslim - is not showing up.

"Last week everybody cancelled. They don't even think about the scheduling. I was urging them to come to normal life, and they still in doubt to get out of the streets to avoid backlash of the incident that has happened," says Dr. Katee.

The Muslim-Americans NY1 spoke with say, like all New Yorkers, they're shocked and hurt by last week's attacks, and they want to get the message out that their religion condemns violence.

According to Muminah Kudo, another teacher at Al-Medina, "In the Koran they say that life is sacred, and we are family, we are brothers and sisters to one another, whether you're Muslim or not a Muslim, and you cannot hate or hurt anybody."

But that's a message that apparently is lost on many.

- J.D. LaRock

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