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“Can They Focus on Arab Muslim Men?”

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I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I am a woman. A Christian. A graduate of UCLA. I bleed red, white and blue. I am, uh, thirty-something. And, one more thing, I am Egyptian.

Why does any of this matter? Because some of the above characteristics have come to the forefront of conversation since September 11, 2001.

Not all those defining characteristics show up on paper. For example, I sometimes get junk mail for “Mr. Lores Rizkalla.” Since the junk mailers don’t have the benefit of seeing my Just A Woman website, they don’t always know what to make of my name. Also, I have had many a puzzled acquaintance at the discovery that my Egyptian family has given me a protestant Christian heritage. (Protestant Christians are the minority of the approximately 5% of Christians in Egypt). Again, something not readily available on paper.

I believe it was July 2002 when I was taking a little trip to Nashville. (I know, I know. Who would voluntarily go to Nashville? Only the dearest of friends would make Nashville an option.) In any case, I began socializing with the gentlemen behind the counter at my LAX departure gate. Very nice people, harassing me for having talked on my cell phone the entire time I was in line. We continued to chat when there was a sudden look of confusion on this man’s face. He didn’t do anything unusual but seemed to be pressing more keys on the key board with a bit of frustration.

I didn’t think anything of it. “Old computer,” I thought. “Poor guy must have to deal with the problems of a dinosaur computer all day!” As his tapping turned into pounding, I realized there was a problem. The gathering of two others who joined him now also gave me a hint that perhaps it wasn’t a computer problem after all. When my gift of observing the obvious kicked in, I asked them if there was a problem.

“It doesn’t make sense. But, there’s some kind of security check on your name,” he said. They looked at each other, looked at me and then looked at each other with that same I-don’t-get-it look. Long story short, about 40 minutes later, they circumvented the system in order to clear me to get on the plane.

While I’d started to get nervous about making my flight, I breathed a sigh of relief. It may not have made sense to them but it did to me. On paper, I was a 30-something Egyptian who may have been male trying to get on a non-stop cross-country flight.

I wasn’t just relieved to get on my flight to see my friends. I knew that they would eventually figure out that I was safe. I was thrilled and thanked them for having stopped someone with my profile. I know we’ve heard this before. But, it is worth repeating that not every Middle Easterner is a terrorist. But on September 11, every one of those terrorists was male, Muslim and Middle Eastern.

So the drama that has ensued over racial profiling is absolutely ridiculous to me. If there’s nothing to hide, then aren’t you happy to get on a plane or a train knowing they’ve checked anyone fitting the profile? Sure, there may be others who don’t fit the profile. But, does that excuse us from checking those who do?

The debate now surrounds New York subways. Police are taking measures to make sure that here is no profiling. Are you kidding? I find it absolutely irresponsible to not profile. In a recent MSNBC report, David Aarsonson of American University’s Washington College of Law said this: “Can they focus on Arab Muslim men? Probably not.”

Aarsonson went on to explain the reasoning. “They have to have procedures for who gets selected, whether it’s every fifth or tenth person, which involve neutral criteria.” It appears that political correctness has replaced common sense. I’m sure Osama bin Laden is loving this! Is this the best way to ensure the safety of the American people? I highly doubt it.

While I think it is critically important to protect our individual liberties from further and future government involvement in our lives, we must grapple with the reality of our post-9/11 world. I’m not advocating a limitation of our individual rights. What I am proposing is a little wisdom, common sense and strategy in the war on terror, the greatest threat not only to liberties but to our very lives.
Pub: LH

About Lores Rizkalla

  • Mihos

    Interesting questions raised here. Being of obviously North African ethnicity and American nationality Ive already had more than a fair share of interesting post 911 shake downs. The issue that concerns me the most is that the American public tends to follow the leads provided by news media. After Oklahoma Arabs were targeted imm.
    I don’t know who is involved in these atrocious acts. It seems to me that we are being assaulted by mercenaries of various ethnicities and nationalities. Some knowingly engage in acts that other
    parties of unknown origin or objective plan out. In short the overwhelming evidence points to the sort of mercenary war described by Tom Clancey in any one of his earlier novels. I am not buying this Arab male versus the infidel story.
    Most of the peopkle killed in Iraq and Egypt , Algeria and Afghanistan ARE Moslems and a good number of them are killed in Mosque on Friday.
    It seems more likely to me that military industrailists are in the habit of employing and training mercenaries who in turn solicit the contributions of morans who will blow themselves up.
    This may be a no brainer to all.
    I just dont believe that Arabs are the most likely assassins or that Arabs are at the root of the issue. At this point Im more worried about the Turner diary folks. On september the eleventh 2001 I went to the website of the turner diary folks because I was really sure that Arabs were incapable of pulling off such a complex feat. I live in Egypt for several months every year. It just didnt seem right that Saudis and Egyptians can pull off this huge feat but cant even plan or design a proper parking structure much less maintain an airport or provide international training for would be pilots.
    It seemed far more likely to me that a cabal of mixed special interests was behind the atrocity and that they were playing the game too well.
    Leaving their passports and car with plane flying instructions where all can find them. The somehow unsinged passport of Mohamed Atta discovered when the plane melted and burned everything else including the building – it just doenst add up for me.
    The Turner Diary website had an eery prediction posted the previous week. maybe they made dire predictions like that every week. Regardless, it isnt the terrorist threat of myxomotosis that killed the rabbit. Its the internal parasites and heriditary illnesses that kill the rabbit that is once the rabbit has already has been hit by this modern man made plague. I think that searches may be necessary and that Arab men and East and North Africans will be searched more than any others. I remember after a long stay in Egypt I returned home a whole day late from being stopped and studied along the way. When I landed in LA I turned on the tv and saw to my amazement a sad tragedy that had my head spinning. Two young middle eastern men just out of active duty in the military had moved to LA to become dj’s . They had bought the equipment and somehow managed to get themselves booked in LOs Vegas. This is where their car showed up but no sign of them anywhere.
    I dont know what ever happened to them but their alarmed mothers were in LA with investigators with dual passports. The news was empathatic they covered each intimate detail of each of the missing’s lives. It was a sad tragedy.
    But for me- an academic professor and former musician an award winning producer at that I barely got back to the USA and even then with glares and mistrust abounding at every corner even while born here-
    yet these two young men vanished into the Nevada desert and there was no anti terrorist fbi or cia task force investigating each step of their diseapparance for the news media.
    The two middle eastern men were Israeli.
    Before any one gets their grits out for ironing , Im not suggesting the Israelis have anything more to do with terrorism than the average American..
    I just think it is ironic who is considered Middle eastern and who is considered a threat. It depends on the media and their projected biases good and bad.
    But I think our biggest problems will come from within as they have in London.
    The opportunistic parasites are the hate groups and any of their number may feel buoyed with the hope that atrocious acts will go unpunished- or that another people will be targeted before them giving the real assasins the lead time to regroup and hide.