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Arab American Media Fear Worsening Public Opinion After Ft. Hood

New America Media, News Feature, Suzanne Manneh Posted: Nov 07, 2009

Editors Note: Arab American media say they do not fear a backlash after the Fort Hood shootings, but they fear public opinion of Arab Americans will worsen. New America Media reporter Suzanne Manneh compiled their reactions.

Osama Siblani , publisher, The Arab American News, Dearborn, Mich.

Like for every other American, it was shocking, and as an Arab American, things come to your mind: I hope hes not an Arab or Muslim.

Im not really worried about specific backlash from this. American people are more educated and understand that this was an act of an individual. You will also always find people that treat it with guilt by association. This is not a terrorist incident. We have written a great deal about this issue, and we issued a press release immediately after it happened. But As Arabs and Muslims, all the time, we have to explain ourselves, because of the stigma following us, and that is unfair. Last night, I received threatening hate emails and I called the Dearborn police asking for an extra patrol and security. This is being covered in Arab world media the same way it is in American media. It is very important news and there are reporters on the scene, but people should not jump to conclusions. We need to wait for an investigation.

Jamal Dajani, senior director and producer, Mosaic News, Link TV

I'm sick and tired of these kinds of questions from media outlets whenever some kooky Muslim decides to commit a random act of violence...or in this case when a GI psychiatrist goes psycho. At the same time, I'm also sick and tired of self-appointed Muslim experts and spokespersons who jump at every miserable opportunity like this one to try to explain Islam.

"Islam is a religion of peace," they say.

No, it's not. Not anymore than Christianity is a religion of love. They're just religions, and what you do with them is all up to the believer. More people have died in the name of religion than in any other catastrophe or plague.

Antoine Faisal, publisher, Aramica, Brooklyn, N.Y.

My first reaction was oh, my God, I hope hes not an Arab. I was hoping it wasnt a terrorist attack that no Arabs were involved, and that we wouldnt be in the same position.

I thought why is it one of us? As a newspaper publisher, Im an Arab American and I stand by my community, but at the same time, there is no explanation that can justify this.

There is always someone who will say, there goes one more crazy Arab who flew off his handle and went on a rampage. But he is one human being, regardless of his ethnicity, and I will not accept being guilty by association.

He was a respectable member of our community up to the point where he decided to commit this heinous and cowardly crime I dont think there is a need for concern, but no matter what there will be people who want to incriminate you and criticize you. Committing a crime does not have a religion. We dedicated a prominent section of the front cover [of Aramica] to feature condolences for the people killed.

Ahmed Tharwat, producer, Belahdan: Arab American TV Show, Minnetonka, Minn.

I thought, oh, shit, an Arab in Texas. Thats the worst case scenario. But this is actually an American and military problem, its not an Arab or Muslim problem.

I am definitely worried about the possible backlash, not at the same scale as post 9-11its a cumulative effect and this will exacerbate it. Instead of going postal, people may say dont go Islamic on me.

American society tries to avoid the problem by finding a scapegoat instead of addressing the problem. Mainstream U.S. media is really trying to steer this shooting as an Arab and Muslim ideology. I wrote something about this yesterday on my blog and Web site, but I dont know why Arab Americans have to apologize. There are thousands of Arabs and Muslims serving in the U.S. military.

Mansour Tadros, publisher, The Future Newspaper, Chicago, Ill.

This has been boiling from the first Gulf War, and this is a human problem. I dont think there will be much backlash, but FOX News will try and put Arabs and Muslims in the spotlight and twist the story.

I hope the Obama administration will deal with the issue instead of this problem boiling and boiling and making it sound that this is an Arab or Muslim problem.

If he was white or Christian, they (U.S. mainstream media) would not have made it such an issue. We have written about this issue before and yesterday I started writing a commentary. The point is that these things are hiding in the closet and the country has to take this seriously. We need to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the best way, because there is no light at the end of the tunnel for winning.

Fatima Atieh, publisher, Al Enteshar Al Arabi and president, Arab American Press Guild, Los Angeles, Calif.

This kind of problem is something that has been going on for a while, and it was an individual acting on his own. Everyone represents him or herself only, and this is not something that should represent Arabs and Muslims, but we in the Arab and Muslim communities condemn this. There is good and bad in every community, and Arabs are victims too. For example, six of those killed in the Virginia Tech students were Arab.

I am honestly hoping that this will not have a negative impact on our community. Obama is looking to improve the relationship with Arabs and Muslims. Post 9/11 backlash took a toll on Arabs and Muslims, and I believe that our community should be aware of their surroundings and vigilant of discrimination.

Amani Ghouleh, publisher, The Arabic Horizon Newspaper, Orland Park, Ill.

I am very sorry for the family and for the victims. I was shocked that this was an Arab and a psychiatrist. Murder is against Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and our community condemns this. I also think this may have a serious effect for discrimination against our community. I hope Americans will be more understanding and not stereotype, because Arab Americans like other groups are productive contributing members to society. I will also be watching my children in school, because they experienced great discrimination after 9/11 and they deserve the right to peaceful education like any other child.

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After Fort Hood: Count All the Dead








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