STATEMENT BY CONGRESSMAN DAVID E. BONIOR CONDEMNING BIGOTRY AGAINST AMERICANS OF SOUTH ASIAN DESCENT AND SIKHS
September 21, 2001
As America mourns its dead and prepares to launch a global war on terrorism, some Americans are facing additional, ugly threats here on the home front. Not from foreign terrorists, but from fellow citizens.
Since the attacks on New York and Washington last week, many Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, Sikhs and other Americans of South Asian heritage have become the targets of terrible bigotry and violence - based solely on their faith, their heritage, or their choice of traditional clothing.
Americans of just about every religion and ethnic heritage lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks. At least five Sikh Americans were killed in the World Trade Center, and one - a convenience store owner named Balbir Singh Sodhi - was shot dead last week in Phoenix by an angry gunman calling himself a "patriot." Other Sikhs are facing harassment and humiliation at our airports. Every American should deplore this backlash. It is morally repugnant and un-American.
Sadly, Indian and Pakistani Americans died in the attacks, too, and have become targets of retaliation in the aftermath. In Dallas, a Pakistani Muslim grocer named Waqar Hassan was shot dead in a hate crime on Saturday. In New Jersey, businesses owned by Indian Americans have been spray-painted with crude epithets, warning them to "leave town." Such intimidation is reminiscent of the KKK, or of Nazi Germany. It has no place in modern America, and all of us must stand with our neighbors in the face of such ignorance and hatred.
Mosques and temples have been vandalized, business owners shot and killed, schoolchildren taunted, and women attacked with stones and knives. Even here in this House, a colleague referred to the head-covering that some Sikhs or Muslims wear out of respect for God as a "diaper." His spokesman went on to say that all turban-wearing airline passengers should be taken aside and questioned.
This bigotry is despicable. It runs directly against the very ideals that make America great - equality, tolerance, diversity and democracy. We are a nation built by immigrants, a nation that is stronger - not weaker - for the many people and cultures who proudly call it home. And we must stand united, as one people, in this time of crisis.
America will prevail against terrorism. And we will prevail not just through the strength and courage of our military, but through the enduring strength of our most cherished principles. Only if we stand by our ideals - and our neighbors - will we successfully defend the nation we love.
I can't relate to the feelings of somebody that can cry about a kid in the other side of the world dying of hunger, and that can't lend a helping hand to its own neighbor.
Understanding differences, accepting our humanity, it is the only way.
As being a young lady(i am 14 years old) under the influence of islamic beleifs and of being adolecscent(in high school) I have realized that Ignorance thrives in America......people looking at muslims as terrorists are so little minded and disrepsectful, a muslim school in my ummah (community) has had a bomb threat and our children cant goto school now.this makes no sense....all we can do is pray.........
love, peace and understanding