Commentary: Lodi Arrests Cloud Muslim Community

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, June 10, 2005

A young Pakistani American has been charged with lying to federal agents about attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan where, the complaint says, he was taught "how to kill Americans." His father is charged with lying about financing his son's training. The FBI agent who interrogated both father and son says they admitted to these activities.

The arrest of these two and three other Pakistani men for immigration violations, has sparked widespread fear in Lodi's Muslim community that a cloud of suspicion has been cast over them all. Beyond Lodi, Muslim Americans throughout the region who've worked hard since 9/11 to reassure their fellow Americans, worry they will be tainted as well. That would be as unfortunate as it is unfair.

As U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott told reporters this week, "these are criminal charges against certain individuals, not a religion or people in a community. To those who seek to retaliate against Muslim persons for the actions at issue in this case… I have one simple word of advice  - don't."

So far there has been no sign of a backlash. In fact, many Lodi residents have expressed support for their beleaguered Muslim American neighbors. In doing so, they uphold the best traditions of our country.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.