“But I was very happy with Afghanistan, because I was thinking we were helping them. They are very poor people, and they really need help after the long war with Russia, and it was very nice that we were helping them. But now, I don’t know. It is still not clear what is going on. I listen to the news very much, but I don’t know what is going on. It is very complicated. I feel that they [other Muslim nations] are angry because we are not helping the situation in Palestine — and even look what happened in Israel; they hurt the students! This is terrible!
“I feel that we can do anything. I blame some of the Muslim nations for these problems too. Some of them have too much money, and money is power, and they should do something; but it seems they are thinking only of themselves, not even their own people.” When asked if she is referring to the Saudis, she giggles. “Of course!” she replies.
Pierre Rouhane, 42, owns and operates a pita bread factory. He came to the United States from Lebanon in 1979 and now lives in Bonita. Rouhane calls himself a born-again Christian, and his beliefs have fostered an indifference toward politics.
“I don’t have any idea who is to blame for the attacks. I don’t blame anyone. I do my bread, and I am happy. I don’t believe in the Muslim religion. Israel and Palestine? It’s been going on for thousands of years before this time, so it’s not going to stop until Jesus comes. I think the United States’ policy will be changing a lot. Everyone knows my religion — every born-again Christian is going to tell you the same thing: There will be a lot of tough times. The Rapture is coming; Jesus is going to come and save us, and there will be an end to it after the fake peace between Israel and the Arab nations.”
Abu Hajid (not his real name) is 30 and came to the United States from Lebanon six years ago. A practicing Muslim, he asked that his real name and occupation not be published because of the problems he has faced at work since the 9/11 attacks. “Before that, I had lots of friends, but since then, they are no longer my friends.” Currently in the process of changing jobs, Hajid wanted his identity hidden so he could speak freely.
“Of course it was Osama bin Laden that is responsible. He did more harm to us [Muslims] than anybody in the world. He has killed innocent people. If you want to express your hatred, there are a lot of ways to express it, but not by killing innocent people. The thing is, he is hiding behind Islam, and nothing he did is according to Islam. What does he know about Islam? He doesn’t know anything about Islam, so how can he say he is a Muslim? He hates the United States because he once got money and support from them, and now that they have deserted him he did this. There is no justification for his actions, and Arabs in the United States are being blamed for his actions! I try to keep a low profile because of this. People ask me where I am from, and I tell them that I am half Greek and half Italian. Seriously! I don’t want anybody telling me about September 11, because it was like somebody putting a knife in my heart.
“The other Muslim nations are really corrupted. You can’t find a Muslim country that is not corrupted. Look at the presidents and leaders. If I was the president, then my son would be the next president. That is corruption!
“The U.S. policy is biased. I would love to see it change. I would like to see more — like the president says, ‘We need justice.’ And that’s what I want to see — justice. I’m against the Palestinian bombers, and I’m against what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people. When Israel occupied Lebanon, the United States bombed it. So who are we going to blame? The United States, right? When the U.S. embassy in Lebanon was bombed, how many Marines were killed there? I tell you what, about 150 or 160. Do you know how many Lebanese were killed or wounded? More than 2000!
“When I came to the United States and met the people here, they were the kindest people I ever met. The United States’ policy is making the Middle Eastern people, the Arab world, mad at America. I think the Jewish lobby that is ruling the United States is to blame — of course they’re going to support Israel, right? How many millions of dollars of our taxes are going to Israel to kill Palestinians and take them out of their country?
“I’m not saying all the Palestinians are good people. A lot of them are bad people, because they are killing innocent people. I’m not saying that killing people is good, but these young kids are bombing themselves. Why? Because they are so desperate. They see their people getting killed. They’re immature, they’re uneducated, they don’t know better, so they want revenge, so they go and bomb themselves to kill innocent people. I’m not saying this is good, because it is bad. But that’s what they are doing. There is a lot of pressure on them and there is no food, no education, and no freedom; and a lot of people are getting killed. So not knowing better, they bomb themselves and kill innocent people.
“Like I said, the Americans are the kindest people I have ever met, but they don’t know the truth. They ask me where Lebanon is, like I ride a camel! They don’t know, because the media here doesn’t show the truth of the Arab world and the Middle East. There is a lot of frustration from the people of the Middle East because they think that nobody’s telling the truth about them.”