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Friday
May062011

Anti-Muslim Incidents Across the U.S. Following Bin Laden's Death

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When he announced the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama acknowledged and echoed his predecessor, telling the nation, "I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam."

Not everybody listened. While the incidents are for the most part isolated, several public expressions of anti-Muslim sentiment have occurred around the country.

A teacher was put on leave in Friendswood, Texas, after he reportedly asked a female student in his ninth grade algebra class if she was grieving over the death of her "uncle."

In Anaheim, Calif., eggs were thrown at the Fusion Ultra Lounge, even though the nightclub's owner, Mohammed El Khatib, had served in the U.S.'s armed forces and, after hearing of Bin Laden's death, said, "We're happy that he's gone."

In Paterson, N.J., the American Arab Forum received calls on Monday with a message for the "boss."

"It was more than one call, possibly the same person disguising his voice," Aref Assaf, president of the forum, told ABC News. The caller spoke with the staff, not Assaf. "'Tell your boss that we got his friend and we're going to round you up, all of you,' something like that."

"This is the price of being an American Muslim, and a public one at that. It comes with the territory," Assaf said.

Daniel Mach, the director of the ACLU's program on freedom of religion and belief, cautioned that he was speaking "anecdotally" but said, "My impression is that there has been a spike. Bin Laden's death appears to be the latest in a recent string of events that have triggered anti-Muslim activity around the country.

"Sadly, some people will find any excuse to act on their hatred and bigotry," he added.

Aziz Siddiqui , president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, said he sees the incident with the teacher in Houston as one of "isolated incidents that have been going on for a number of years." He said he thought it was handled properly by school authorities and that it's not America that has "these biases" but certain types of individuals.

"Our hope is to engage people who disagree with us in a respectful and informed matter," said Assaf. Bin Laden's death has brought out powerful emotions. "Our feelings are very real and very strong," said Assaf. "We say, Good riddance."

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