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Racist attacks target Arabs and Muslims
War casualties at home

April 11, 2003 | Page 2

THE CASUALTIES of the U.S. war on Iraq don't live only in Iraq. Since the start of the war, Arabs and Muslims across the country have been the victims in a rash of racist attacks.

In one of the worst, Abdullah Naderi, an Afghan businessman, was set on fire on March 25 after two men broke into his Indianapolis restaurant after closing. Investigators found gasoline cans, a crow bar, rope, aerosol cans and a disposable lighter inside the restaurant--yet still say they aren't "sure" if the attack is a hate crime. Naderi suffered burns over 60 percent of his body--and is still in intensive care.

In Burbank, Ill., an explosive device was thrown at the van of a Palestinian family March 22. The van's door was blown off, shattered glass was thrown up to 30 feet away, and a hole was punched in the vehicle's floor. The man arrested for the crime was convicted last year of throwing a brick through the window of a mosque.

In California, four Muslim women visiting a restaurant were threatened by a man who made references to raping Muslim women.

At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, someone scrawled "Suicide bomb yourselves" in permanent marker on a display board at the Muslim Student Association's offices. And physical assaults against Muslims have been reported in Northern California, Southern California, Georgia, New Jersey and South Carolina.

In Yorba Linda, Calif., a Muslim teenager was badly beaten by a group that allegedly included white supremacists.

With Arabs and Muslims the target of a federal government witch-hunt, it's no wonder that attacks like these are on the rise. As Laila Al-Qatami, a spokeswoman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told the Associated Press: "The longer the war goes on and the higher the number of American casualties [in Iraq], I think probably you can make a correlation there would be more hate crimes and harassment against Arab-Americans."

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