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Community Hearing on Post-9/11 Prejudices Saturday

Advocates, politicians and victims to discuss the discriminatory impact of terrorist attacks.

A community hearing on the impact that 9/11 has had on members of the Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian communities will take place  at the .

Attendees will have the chance to hear from civil rights advocates, victims of prejudice and Congressman Michael Honda and . The event's purpose is to raise awareness about ethnic and religious justice in the area.

“The hearing will help shed continued light on civil rights violations,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director at the San Francisco office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). “In the last 10 years, hate crimes, employment discrimination and law enforcement harassment, have increased.”

A study called “Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States,” published by CAIR and the , reported that anti-Muslim behavior increased immediately after 9/11 but leveled off. After the election of President Obama, however, the tone shifted among certain groups, and anti-Muslim sentiments have become more mainstream and vocal.

“We will humanize the stories as well as move elected officials to action,” said Billoo.

To be sure, other groups beside Muslims have been stereotyped by the actions of the Islamic terrorists of Sept. 11, 2001. South Asians and Christian Arabs have also suffered from prejudices in today’s post-9/11 world.  

“It's unfortunate that many communities are suffering as result of this,” said Billoo. “This is not something that is exclusive to the Muslim community.”

For example, some male followers of Sikhism, an Indian religion, have also had to deal with varying degrees of abuse because they wear turbans.

“I was subjected to additional searches at the checkpoint,” said Amardeep Singh, co-founder and director of programming of the Sikh Coalition, who flew from the East Coast on Thursday. He will speak at the public hearing in Mountain View as a representative of his organization. “My turban is no more capable of carrying a dangerous device then any other piece of clothing.”

Singh said that after the brutal attacks of Sept. 11, he's been forced to endure a more rigorous security check at the airport. Officers of the Transport Security Agency usually ask him to pat down his own turban. After complying, an officer will swab his hands as a security measure.

“Why are government resources being put toward extra searches for members of my community?” asked Singh.  “What the government is saying to everyone, in the public view, is that there is something particularly dangerous about our headdress.” 

Residents from Mountain View who belong to communities that have been most affected by such prejudice look forward to the event. Some of these inhabitants see the open forum as a positive step toward fighting ignorance and promoting cultural understanding.

“It is a giant leap in the progression of understanding a human being,” Kalwant Sandhu, a Sikh resident from Mountain View and chairman of the city's Human Relations Commission. “This is a small step in the sense that we are getting together, but in the context of humanity it is a giant leap, because we are beginning to talk.”

  • What: Community hearing on discriminatory effects post-9/11
  • Where: , 266 Escuela Ave., Mountain View 
  • When: Saturday, 12:30-4 p.m. (Press Conference begins at 12:30 followed by the hearing at 1 p.m.) 
Judi Mathers August 26, 2011 at 05:33 PM
HMMMMM? Do I see all the females sitting together as a block? So much for adopting American values of equality. Great photo!!! Picture is worth 1000 words!
Adelaide Chen August 26, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Patch has a reporter covering the event Sat. Since you're not attending the public hearing, let's read the article and learn from the experience. (And our reporter is a woman.)
Rebecca Rosen Lum August 26, 2011 at 10:57 PM
America has a long history of women sitting together, Judi. You've perhaps heard of the quilting bee?
Avni Nijhawan August 27, 2011 at 12:33 AM
Judi, women of many different religious and ethnic backgrounds choose to observe traditions like gender segregation at places of religious worship (which is what I suspect this picture is of). I'm not saying I support it, but it isn't fair to stereotype without a full understanding of what's going on-- without actually talking to the people in the picture. Furthermore, not all women of Muslim/Arab/Sikh/South Asian descent follow these customs. America, too, has many customs/traditions that adhere to gender roles, and women in America still face discrimination in terms of salary, media portrayal, and family expectations. As a feminist, I am a firm believer in gender equality/ gender neutrality; but there is often more to the picture than meets the eye, and trying to advance equality by making a blanket statement about what is really a very diverse group of people certainly won't help.
David B. Bowman August 27, 2011 at 04:57 AM
Perhaps to label all fundamentalists as misogynists is to overstate the case. To label "hatred of women" as the cornerstone of religious fundamentalism is certainly mistaken. But the commentator is on to something. There does seem to be a lot of chauvinism running as a thread in fundamentalist circles. Certainly no Amish woman could tell the whole community to pick up from N.E. Indiana and move to Ohio, as I once observed. Hebrew Orthodoxy is dominated by the male, as we saw in the movie, "Yentil," when the young woman had to don a disguise in order to study Talmud . . . A review of the index of Ernest R. Sandeen's, The Roots of Fundamentalism, reveals no woman named . . . At many, if not most weddings in fundamentalist churches, the pastor will quote Ephesians 4 re the wife being "submissive" to the husband. This came up recently in the political campaign of Michelle Bachmann . . . Certainly the Taliban attempt in Afghanistan to keep girls away from education seems to border on hatred . . . etc. So, yes, the commentator is on to something. The case needs more nuance from group to group. David B. Bowman
Pam Conlon-Sandhu August 27, 2011 at 05:55 PM
I encourage you to attend sikh temple and experience first hand the "block" as you so describe in your comment above. I have been attending Sikh services as an American born Roman Catholic raised woman for over 25 years, and continue to be impressed by the equality that is encouraged within the sikh religious community as I can compare to my own religious upbringing. Men and Woman are equally encouraged to read and conduct the religious ceremonies, work together in service to the congregation in the kitchen, in the punjabi school programs etc. The simple act of woman and men choosing to sit apart in a service or in a "block" is a respectful tradition that I have grown to understand over the years.
Pam Conlon-Sandhu August 27, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Currently hearing middle school and high school Sikh and Muslim kids testify about bullying in bay area schools as result of their race, dress and religion. It must stop!
Pam Conlon-Sandhu August 27, 2011 at 09:19 PM
Excellent question just posed: where are the School District officials today?
Pam Conlon-Sandhu August 27, 2011 at 09:58 PM
"Fear incorporated" new report released yesterday...
Brash Brazen August 28, 2011 at 05:13 AM
Once again more problems with idol worshipers who can't get along. Religion & religious intolerance are one of the biggest problems facing not only our schools,communities & nation,but our entire planet. Whether they be self righteous morons denying evolution & global warming,while trying to deny sex education to our children & a womans right to choose. Or tell you what kind of meat to eat & when,religious extremists are a danger to us all. While 9/11 focused our attention on terrorists who happen to be Muslim,the much greater danger to America today are Christian Fundamentalists. Contrary to what we've been taught most devout people are intolerant of anyone who doesn't share,no,embrace their beliefs. Why should Muslims expect to be treated any better than Jews,Buddists,Rastafarians,Sikhs or any other believers or non-believers that they say will burn in eternal damnation. Faith can be a wonderful comforting thing,but let's recognize it for what it is - mythology. Try to love & embrace your neighbors no matter what you & they believe. Just keep your prejudices to yourselfs.
kuuipo August 29, 2011 at 05:01 PM
@Brash Brazen: Your name is well chosen and creative. Interesting. For someone who advocates loving and embracing one's neighbor regardless of belief, you sure come off pretty harsh. It's clear you're an atheist which is in and of itself a personal belief system, but just because you subscribe to it kindly don't criticize those that subcribe to the existence of a higher being by calling it mythology. Isn't that somewhat disingenuous given your argument if not downright pontification?
Avni Nijhawan August 29, 2011 at 05:13 PM
A gallup poll released earlier this month showed that compared to other major religious groups in the U.S., Muslim Americans are the least likely to justify attacks against civilians. "There is wider agreement that attacks on civilians by individuals or small groups are never justified. At least 7 in 10 American adults from all major religious groups agree that these attacks are never justified, but Muslim Americans again are most opposed, with 89% rejecting such attacks." -- http://www.gallup.com/poll/148763/muslim-americans-no-justification-violence.aspx A more general 2009 gallup poll on Muslim-Americans may be of interest here, too http://www.gallup.com/poll/116260/muslim-americans-exemplify-diversity-potential.aspx
Brash Brazen August 31, 2011 at 04:37 AM
kuuipo - Thanks for taking time from your hectic schedule of commenting on virtually every issue to find time to critique my comments on the divinely delusional. Harsh no,judgemental yes,well-founded certainly. I believe the term you're looking for would be agnostic "one who believes it is impossible to know if God exists" . I would never deny another persons right to worship as they please,although I reserve the to ridicule their unconscionable behavior. One of the basic precepts of our most popular religions is that there is one God,their God & everyone else can & will go to hell. Great jumping off point for "Peace,Love & Understanding". Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. Just because you don't have a favorite deity doesn't make you a bad person,it just gives one a unique perspective on those who do. I'll take science & common sense over faith,spirituality & devotion. Religious hatred is tearing our planet apart. I on the other hand prefer to hate people on an individual basis. And Avni most religions are repressive toward women,no surprise.
kuuipo August 31, 2011 at 05:06 AM
You say tuh-mey-to, I say tuh-mah-to...no surprise. You claim Faith is a mythology or fictitious, which is counter to your definition of agnostic. I suppose one could argue mythology is a body of beliefs in which many Gods exist, but that is clearly not what you meant, correct? You also blame hatred for tearing our planet apart and yet you claim your right to hate, which is just another means to the same condition. If everyone claimed and exercised their rights to hate individuals, that would produce the same effect, no? So, I suppose we will simply have to agree to disagree.
Brash Brazen August 31, 2011 at 07:10 PM
There are far too many people in this world from different cultures & backgrounds which are "foreign" to me to catagorize,much less understand. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt,I'm not a hater. But,if you do something to me personally then I'll hate you on an individual basis. I'm not one of those " **** you & everyone who looks like you" kind of people. If only there were more people like me the world would be a better place.

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