LOS ANGELES: Since September 11, Arab and Muslim community
relations organizations in the US have been working in crisis mode to
minimize backlash against their communities, as well as spread messages
of unity and tolerance.
But most associations say they weren't prepared for an event of this
magnitude, and may lack the resources to deal with it.
"The structures we have in place have been stretched to the limit and
beyond in this case," said Hussein Ibish, director of communication for
the Arab American Anti-discrimination Committee.
"We were unprepared for something of this scale."
Arab and Muslim organizations report hundreds of media calls and
requests for interviews, beginning on Tuesday and increasing over
Ibish said he received more than 100 calls on September 11, and has
appeared in several major media outlets over the past week, such as CNN
and the LA Times.
Most Arab and Muslim groups are concentrating on similar messages for
local and national press - that their communities are experiencing the
same emotions as other citizens, that they condemn any terrorist
actions, and that they are seeing a backlash of anti-Arab sentiment that
has led to numerous threats and hate crimes across the country
(including at least two deaths that may be related to anti-Arab
"We are doing as many media shows as we can," said Sarah Eltantawi,
communications director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "But the
overall goal has to be grassroots."
Eltantawi said that her organization will focus on interfaith events in
the coming days, and educating the public on the "peaceful" nature of