Arab and South Asian Communities Fear Possible Backlash from War with Iraq

March 14, 2003

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

On March 14, 2003 The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that "alarming, perhaps extreme, precautions are being suggested informally in some Arab and South Asian communities because of rising fears of further backlash in this country in the event of a U.S. war on Iraq... Trying to straddle the line between reassurance and alarm, community leaders and officials said an increase in hate crimes against 'Arab-looking' people and their homes, businesses or mosques because of an invasion actually was unlikely... The FBI on Wednesday called on 18,000 state and local police agencies to be extra alert for threats or assaults against Muslims, Arab Americans or Sikhs (who sometimes are mistaken for Muslim or Arab). The agency said 'war with Iraq or a terrorist incident is likely to precipitate an... increase in crimes against Arab Americans,' as did the 9/11 attacks."