Many Muslims Feared Killed in World Trade Center Attacks
(Arab American spokesman says his community also victimized in attacks) (550)
By Phillip Kurata
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- As relief workers recover bodies from the rubble of the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York, it appears that hundreds of the victims may have been Muslim Americans and Muslims from other countries.
The communications director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee [ADC], Hussein Ibish, said more than 200 Arab Americans worked in the World Trade Center and many of them were killed when terrorists crashed fuel-laden jetliners into the towers September 11.
"It is very important that all our fellow American citizens understand that the Arab-American community has been as much a target of this attack as any other sector of American society," Ibish said in an online interview September 17.
"We share the same experience and the same emotions as all of our fellow Americans. The same grief, horror, outrage and anger," Ibish wrote. "It is doubly traumatic for us to be living though this nightmare and then find ourselves blamed by some of our fellow citizens simply because of our ethnicity."
Several hundred people from predominantly Muslim countries could have perished in the attacks, according to a report by the French news agency, Agence France-Presse [AFP].
Bangladesh told AFP that at least 50 of its citizens are missing and presumed dead.
Egypt said four of its citizens are missing and feared dead.
Lebanon said two of its citizens are confirmed dead and two others are missing.
Pakistan said one of its nationals is confirmed dead but the figure is certain to rise because around 650 Pakistanis worked in the World Trade Center.
Turkey told AFP that 131 Turks are missing.
One week after the attacks, hope of rescuing any of the more than 5,000 missing is dwindling.
The Los Angeles Times newspaper reports that people with ties to Yemen were killed in the World Trade Center attacks. Several Yemeni men worked in a restaurant on the 106th floor of the north tower and Yemenis worked in the Yemeni-owned Manna Trading Group, an import-export company, on the 33rd floor of the north tower, the Times reported. The newspaper added that Manna is one of dozens of companies that have disappeared.
The Anti-Discrimination Committee's Ibish said many of the large investment firms in the two buildings employed Yemeni Americans and other Arab Americans. The Los Angeles Times reports that as many as 200 Yemenis may have died, but the editor of the Brooklyn-based Yemen Post, Fahmi Salah, told the Times that he thinks the Yemeni death toll is far less.
The Brooklyn borough of New York City is home to about 100,000 Arab Americans, and about 10,000 of them are from Yemen.
One of the Muslims who survived the attacks was 21-year-old Usman Farman from Pakistan. Writing on an Internet Web site, Farman said he owed his life to a Hassidic Jew who pulled him to safety as an avalanche of broken glass threatened to bury them.
"He said: 'Brother, if you don't mind, there is a cloud of glass coming at us. Grab my hand, let's get the hell out of here'," Farman wrote.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)