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America Under Attack: Some Anger is Directed At Arab Americans

Aired September 13, 2001 - 06:27   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: In the meantime, the hijackers -- more on this investigation here, the hijackers may have links to middle eastern countries, and in this country, Arab-Americans, Muslim and Teak (ph) leaders, among others, are reporting sporadic vandalism and assault.

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez found that many Arab-Americans believe that a backlash against them is now growing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sireen Sawaf is a 21-year-old university student. She is Muslim. She fears her scarf may make her a target.

SIREEN SAWAF, ARAB-AMERICAN: Women receiving threats, take off your scarf or else we'll shoot you, and go back to your country and just awful, awful remarks.

GUTIERREZ: Samir (ph), Adam and Ally (ph) were born in California. It is home. Today, they plan indoors.

ADAM HAKIM: I am afraid that they might start being mean to Muslims like they did 200 years ago to black people.

GUTIERREZ: Tamina Taier (ph) and Fiddy Hakim couldn't take their kids to school. The school was closed down for security reasons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My children go to a Muslim school and I'm scared for their security.

GUTIERREZ: It's a terrible way to live, they say, after all, they are Americans: Arab-Americans.

SAWAF: I feel 100 percent American. I've been raised here.

FIDDY HAKIM, MOTHER: I'm really angry, too, because you have to understand that even though I'm Muslim, I am American, and I cannot stand it that they did this. I cannot see how there could be any good in bombing the World Trade Center and hurting so many innocent people.

GUTIERREZ: But Islamic centers in many cities are reporting the backlash is starting. SAWAF: We received reports from New York City of people getting pulled out of their taxicabs who looked Arab and they were beaten up and children who were beaten up.

GUTIERREZ: The terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania were denounced by Muslim countries throughout the world, including Iran, Libya and Jordan. In Afghanistan, Taliban leaders accused of harboring terrorists condemned the attacks, so did Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

YASSER ARAFAT, PALESTINIAN LEADER: We are completely shocked -- completely shocked.

GUTIERREZ: In Texas, two mosques were vandalized. Their windows either shot out or broken. In San Francisco, California, blood was poured on the sidewalks of an Islamic community center.

SAWAF: I'm blown away because I would expect that people realize that this is -- this is not -- this is not American. This is completely un-American.

GUTIERREZ: Adam says he hopes people will not confuse him with the bad guys.

HAKIM: I'm just going to try to show that I'm kind and I'm innocent. I'm just a good person.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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