The Saudi View: Arabophobia raising grave questions : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Arabophobia raising grave questions By Dr. Abdul Qader Tash, Al Bilad Editor in Chief

After Sept. 11, a psychological barrier seems to have come up between the people of America and the Arabs living in the United States. There have been many reports of harassment, even physical attacks, targeting Arabs or Muslims. The sentiment is not confined to the United States. A wave of antipathy to Muslims is spreading in other countries, especially in Europe.

A poll conducted by CNN a few days ago revealed that 85 percent of Americans recommend that the Arabs, including US citizens, should be subjected to “special and intense” inspection before being allowed to board any plane. Other Americans, in the poll, stated that they would refuse to fly if there were Arabs on board the plane.

A US airline denied three passengers of Middle Eastern appearance permission to board a flight under other passengers’ pressure.They insisted that the three should not be on the plane.

The Americans’ fear of anything Arab is spreading. The prevailing sentiment is that every Arab, his person as well as luggage, must to be subjected to inspection. “This is necessary, before entering a government building, boarding a bus, train or airplane”, was how an American woman put it.

The question is how the Americans would be able to distinguish between good Arabs and bad Arabs? How are they going to identify those who hate America’s freedoms and those who defend them — of whom there are thousands and thousands?

The CNN poll also revealed that 49 percent of the American people recommend issuing separate identities for Arabs and 32 percent recommend close and systemic surveillance of Arabs.

The fear of Arabs that has come to guide the daily life of many Americans has had its impact on Arabs. They, in turn, have begun to fear contact or direct dealings with Americans.

According to a travel agent in Jeddah, 80 percent of the reservations made by Saudi students to the United States were canceled. Also canceled were 90 percent of the reservations for Saudis who were about to travel to the US for visit or hospitalization purposes.

Is this Arabophobia justified? Are there any forces working to stoke the fear? For how long will this sentiment continue? Is it a temporary phenomenon that will go away as the memory of the terrorist attack recedes? Or will it remain in the American psyche influencing its perception of Arabs for a long time to come?

The more important question is: What actions the Arabs and Americans are required to take in order to narrow the differences between them so that the misunderstandings can be cleared?

I think that it is a long job that will need much time and effort. If the wounds are not healed, the situation will worsen which may even lead to the clash of civilizations we have been hearing so much about. That, we all know, will make the extremists on both the sides who hate coexistence more than happy.

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-- Swissrose (, September 29, 2001

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