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Harassment and Violence Against People of Middle Eastern, South Asian Descent on the Rise

HeadlineSep 14, 2001

People of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, or even those who appear to be, are increasingly becoming the targets of harassment and violence by civilians and of intense scrutiny by police officers under pressure to track down suspects in the attacks. From Texas to Chicago to Long Island, there have been reports of arson, personal attacks and the police stopping men in Middle Eastern-style head coverings. The incidents are increasing despite many interfaith prayer services and calls from President Bush and other officials for the public not to single out anyone because of religion, race or ethnic origin. In Denton, Texas, the police are investigating a firebomb attack that damaged the Islamic Society of Denton’s mosque early yesterday. In suburban Cleveland, Sukhwant Singh, a Sikh priest who lives at the Guru Gobind Sikh Temple, awakened early yesterday to find bottles filled with gasoline hurled in the temple’s windows and flames pouring out. No arrests have been made. In Louisiana, schools in Jefferson Parish were closed on Wednesday after officials reported students of Middle Eastern origin were being taunted and harassed. In Jackson, Mississippi, a group of people went into the local bank and demanded that the tellers who were of Middle Eastern origin be fired.

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