Crowd in Illinois demonstrates at mosque as backlash continues against Arab-Americans, Muslims
Thursday, September 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) _ A perhaps predictable backlash hit several communities as federal officials said there was mounting evidence that radical Muslims planned and carried out the terror attacks in New York and Washington.
Police turned back 300 marchers _ some waving American flags and shouting ``USA! USA!'' _ as they tried to march on a mosque in this southwest Chicago suburb late Wednesday.
Three demonstrators were arrested, said Bridgeview Police Chief Charles Chigas. There were no injuries and demonstrators were kept blocks from the closed Muslim worship place.
``I'm proud to be American and I hate Arabs and I always have,'' said 19-year-old Colin Zaremba who marched with the group from Oak Lawn.
Federal authorities said they had identified more than a dozen hijackers of Middle Eastern descent in Tuesday's attacks and gathered evidence linking them to Saudi-born terror mastermind Osama bin Laden and other terrorist networks. In all, perhaps 50 people were involved in the plot, government officials said.
In Chicago, a Molotov cocktail was tossed Wednesday at an Arab-American community center. No injuries were reported.
In the suburb of Palos Heights, a man was charged with a felony hate crime for allegedly attacking a gas station attendant he believed was Arab with the blunt end of a machete, Police Sgt. Dave Delaney said. The attendant, who is Moroccan, did not seek treatment, Delaney said.
``The terrorists who committed these horrible acts would like nothing better than to see us tear at the fiber of our democracy and to trample on the rights of other Americans,'' Gov. George Ryan said.
In Huntington, N.Y., a 75-year-old man who was drunk tried to run over a Pakistani woman in the parking lot of a shopping mall, police said. The man, Adam Lang, then followed the woman into a store and threatened to kill her for ``destroying my country.''
A man in a ski mask in Gary, Ind., fired a high-powered assault rifle at a gas station where Hassan Awdah, a U.S. citizen born in Yemen, was working Wednesday, the Post Tribune reported. Police were investigating it as a hate crime.
``I lived in the Middle East for most of my life and have never seen anything like this,'' Awdah said.
Tamara Alfson, an American working at the Kuwait Embassy in Washington, D.C., spent Wednesday counseling frightened Kuwaiti students attending schools across the United States.
``Some of them have already been harassed. People have been quite awful to them,'' said Alfson, an academic adviser to roughly 150 students.
In a show of patriotism, 45 people from Tampa, Fla.'s Islamic community registered with blood services to donate Wednesday and 30 members of the Muslim Students Association at the University of South Florida signed up.
``You feel the pain twice: Once because of what has happened and once because of the looks you get,'' said Sami Al-Arian, an engineering teacher at the University of South Florida.
Abu Nahidian, director of the Manassas Mosque in Virginia, said his congregation has been the target of insults and hate messages left on the office answering machine.
``We have some recordings in our tapes that say, `We hate you so-and-so Muslims and we hope you die,''' Nahidian said.
A mosque in Lynnwood, Wash., was vandalized, and no one showed up for afternoon prayers at the Islamic Center of Spokane.
Even in Australia, a school bus carrying Muslim children was the target of stone-throwers in Brisbane, and vandals tried to set fire to a Lebanese church in apparent acts of retaliation for the terrorist attacks in the United States, officials said.
In Dearborn, Mich., Issam Koussan told The Detroit News he bought large U.S. flags to fly in front of his home and outside his supermarket after men pulled into his parking lot and yelled threats and racial slurs at his customers.
``I just feel I needed to show my loyalty to this country,'' Koussan said.