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Wonder how Americans view Wassef Ali Hassoun
Creators column Tuesday June 29, 2004
By Ray Hanania

 I wonder how many Americans might view the situation involving Wassef Ali Hassoun.
When they first hear the name, they probably think of Arab/Muslim terrorism, apparently the only kind of terrorism that we have in the world these days.

 And they think of the killers of Americans like Nicholas Berg and Paul Johnson, who are among a growing list of Americans all murdered by terrorist hostage-takers, gruesomely, by beheading.

 But Hassoun isn't just an "Arab" or a "Muslim." I don't know what his religion is, actually. But most Americans just assume that all Arabs are Muslim as are all olive-skinned people from the Middle East , just as they assume we are all terrorists, too.

The fact is, half of the Arabs in the United States , for example, are not Muslim, but they are Christian. It doesn't matter, though. In America , it's what people think that counts, not what they know. Just ask our President, who used his clout to get into the reserves in order to dodge active duty service during the height of the Vietnam War.

 Hassoun happens to be one of 3,500 Arabs who are American and who currently serve in the United States military. There are more than 10,000 Muslims serving in the Military -- not all Muslims are Arabs. Arabs and Muslims have a long tradition, in fact, of serving this country.

According to the Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military ( more than 12,000 served in World War II -- including both my father and uncle.

 You wouldn't know it from the hate they get. Every Arab is a terrorist. Just ask the people in Orland Park, a suburb of Chicago where several Arabs proposed building a mosque there so they could practice their religious freedom like everyone else.

 The village board meeting on the proposal was filled with hateful speech and accusations that the proposed mosque would be a center for Muslim terrorism.

 Or maybe, "Christian" Americans don't like any competition. There are some 35-plus churches in Orland Park and nearly a thousand in the immediate region.

 Hassoun, as it turns out, is a U.S. Marine. His name was on a Marine "active duty" identification card shown by his terrorist hostage-takers in the videotape aired by the Al-Jazeera network, a TV station Americans don't like because it's Arab-owned.

 In the video, the hostage had a white blindfold covering his eyes. He wore military fatigues, and his mustache was trimmed. The U.S. military said Hassoun was of Lebanese descent, though the Al-Jazerra report said the hostage's origins were Pakistani.

 Every major Arab and Muslim American organization issued statements denouncing threats to murder and the actual murders of every hostage killed by the insurgents in Iraq , yet the statements received little coverage. Most Americans think Arabs and Muslims don't denounce hostage-taking, suicide bombings and murder.

 So when they do denounce this proposed killing, please don't say it's because Hassoun is an Arab and possibly a Muslim. Pakistani or not, he should not be killed.

 There are terrorists and insurgents in Iraq . The Arab and Muslim Worlds oppose the terrorists, who have hijacked Islam and easily give it a bad name to a willing audience of Arab-haters and pro-Israeli activists in America .

 The insurgents have a legitimate gripe against the American invasion of Iraq . It's an illegal war that has replaced one dictatorship -- that of Saddam Hussein -- with another -- that of J. Paul Bremer, the hand-picked as dictator of Iraq by President George W. Bush who has pretty much lied about everything about the Iraq war from why we are there to what we our soldiers are doing.

Bush and Bremer and his cabal of warmongers, including a klatch of pro-Israeli extremists in the government are doing all they can to squash news reports about American terrorism, torture and violence.

The Abu-Gharib prison scandal happened under Bremer's watch. It included prisoner abuses, torture and alleged killings. A few hand-slappings have been dished out with some belated apologies, too.

 Like Berger, Johnson and the more than 972 coalition soldiers (including 854 American soldiers) who have been killed in this resurrection of the Vietnam War, Hassoun is a victim of a bad policy made by a bad leader and a country with a bad case of racism.

Let's hope he, and others taken hostage this week, don't become fatalities, too. Not because Hassoun is an Arab and maybe Muslim. But because he is American!





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