After Boston attack: US Muslims reliving post 9-11 experience
Some 6 million Muslims live in US, and in days following Boston Marathon attack, they say they are experiencing anew harassment and anxiety which took place after 9/11. Says one Muslim youth who was at marathon finish line and whose photo was posted online, ‘I’m afraid to go to school’
Apprehensions were raised among Arabs and Muslims after the New York Post published the photos of two Muslim teens, who the paper's headlines claimed, were wanted by authorities for questioning in relation to the Boston bombings.
- FBI releases images of 2 suspects at Boston marathon
A short time after the attack, the main headline on the newspaper’s site had stated that at least 12 people had been killed and that the main suspect was a Saudi who had been arrested by Boston Police. Law enforcement quickly denied the reports, saying they had not arrested a Saudi national, or anyone else.
On Thursday, the New York Post published a photo of the two youth, both 17. The paper wrote that Salah Eddin Barhoum and his friend, Yassine Zaime, had been seen close to the marathon finish line. Later the paper retracted its earlier report, saying the two were not the ones being looked for and that the FBI had identified other suspects.
But Salah Barhoum, a son of Morrocan immigrant parents and a high school track runner, was so shocked by the publicity, that when he noticed someone in a car outside his high school watching him and talking on a phone, he quickly ran back into the school.
Police, runner react to explosion (Photo: AP)
Barhoum said that after his photo appeared on the cover of the Post, he received over 200 messages, one from someone in Oregon saying, “How could you do that? Did you even think about the consequences?”
In an interview with the AP, Barhoum said he will not feel safe until the party responsible for the attack is caught. “I’m going to be scared going to school. Work wise, my family, everything is going to be scary.”
The Barhoum family emigrated from Morocco to the US five years ago, and the father, El Houssein Barhoum said he is afraid someone will shoot his son, and that he worries about the safety of his wife and daughters. He himself admits he is afraid to go to his job at a Boston bakery.
The BBC also spoke with several random Muslims they met on US city streets. One 10-year-old boy, identified only as Yusef, said when he arrived at his Ohio school after the attack, he was asked questions by classmates regarding his family. During a class discussion on the attacks, another student asked whether Yusef would blow up the school. The teacher, who did not understand Yusuf’s reply, pulled him aside and held him back until his school locker was checked.
Since the Monday attack, US Muslims are experiencing an intense change in the treatment they receive from others, as they did after September 11. Memories from 2001 are resurfacing for the estimated 6 million Muslims throughout the nation.
The greatest apprehension for Muslims following 9/11 was brought on by the fact that the attackers did turn out to be Muslim.
According to several Muslims interviewed by the media, when a white man carries out a crime, he is looked at as an individual, but when the suspect is Muslim, the entire Muslim-American community is labeled.
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