View Full Version : Still a Chill in New York for Arab-Americans

September 13th, 2003, 08:22 PM
September 14, 2003

There's Still a Chill in New York for Arab-Americans, Poll Says


Two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, two-thirds of New Yorkers say Arab-Americans, Muslims and immigrants from the Middle East are still likely to be unfairly singled out, according to the latest New York Times Poll. That sentiment is stronger among those who count Arabs among their close friends.

Typical of those who think Arabs are targets for discrimination is Shirley Haq, who came to the United States from Pakistan as a child. "As soon as people hear you are a Muslim,'' Ms. Haq, a 38-year-old real estate agent who lives in Manor Heights, Staten Island, said in a follow-up interview, "you hear comments about who Muslims are and what they do."

Most of the New Yorkers polled - 976 adults were surveyed by phone from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4 - do not know anybody from an Arab country. The survey shows that 34 percent know an immigrant from an Arab country, and 12 percent are close friends with an Arab immigrant. The poll's margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

New Yorkers who do have close friends who are Arabs are particularly inclined to say Arab-Americans, Muslims and others from the Middle East are at risk for unfair treatment.

"A friend of mine feels under pressure because he is a Muslim," said Renzo Balducci, a computer scientist who lives in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. "When meeting people, he looks obviously like a Middle Eastern man and feels a bit of coldness." But Mr. Balducci regards such singling out as unavoidable these days. "It's quite natural," he said. "In the news, Muslims are seen daily as being connected with acts of violence in all the current events in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and so on."

The poll found New Yorkers divided on the question of whether Arab-Americans look upon terrorists with understanding. About a third of New Yorkers said Arab-Americans were more sympathetic to terrorism than other American citizens, while 44 percent said they were not. A citywide poll taken a month after the Sept. 11 attacks found virtually the same result.

Mrs. Haq said that she considered Americans very prejudiced right now, but that things are better than they were two years ago. "It's not the same as it used to be when it first happened," she said, referring to the days right after 9/11. Then, "I was afraid every time I got out of my car that somebody was going to break into my car. I was afraid to leave the house with a scarf on."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company