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Backlash feared after Fort Hood shootings

Sunday, November 08, 2009
President Obama Fort Hood Fort Hood, Texas, shooting, military base, Army, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan

Many Muslim groups are worried about a backlash after the recent shootings at Fort Hood. They have been quick to condemn the killings and distance themselves from the shooter.

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The featured topic at the United Muslims of America dinner in Newark Saturday was supposed to be the economy, but the shootings at Fort Hood dominated many of the dinner conversations.

Iftekhar Hai with United Muslims of America told ABC7 it was "very much on everybody's mind."

Master of ceremonies Athar Siddiqee asked for a moment of silence in honor of the victims, calling them "fellow Americans."

"Muslims throughout the world share in the grief and tragedy of this event," he said.

A representative from the San Francisco Interfaith Council read a statement of support for Muslims in the community.

"This is a time when our faith communities need to come together so that all can be treated with respect without discrimination," Rita Semel said.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Campbell was also present to offer support to the Muslim community. He represented the South Bay District as a congressman and state senator. He booked the appearance before Thursday, but said it took on a new meaning to him once the shootings happened.

"I was particularly glad to have the chance to share a word of optimism and shared faith in our country," he told ABC7.

As individuals, many of the people at the dinner said they were not afraid of a negative backlash affecting them. They said they felt like minds have opened since attacks on September 11th.

"I was scared after 9/11 a little bit but not now, because we are speaking out," said Malika Khan of San Jose. "We are human beings just like everybody else and we are productive human beings, working for the goodness of this country."

However, at least one agency in the Bay Area has been targeted since Thursday's shootings at Fort Hood.

"We have received a lot of hate calls, really bad hate calls, swearing on the telephones," Hai said.

Still, many people who were at the dinner see that as an example of a few bad people and not a representation of the majority.

"I feel that American public are great people. They understand. They are not racists," said Hai. "I have been in this country for the last 41 years, so I'm proud to be an American."

Some people at the dinner are concerned that Thursday's shooting could undo all of the progress that Muslims have made since 9/11. But, they said they are willing to keep speaking out and educating people about their faith.

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