US Arabs, Muslims facing harassment amid Israel's Gaza onslaught
Arabs and Muslims in the US are facing a major spike in harassment - including by the US government - in response to the ongoing violence in Gaza and Israel.
Rights groups have reported calls about FBI visits to mosques, detentions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and visits to incarcerated Arab inmates.
This is in addition to individual instances of harassment over the past week, including online threats, being reprimanded at work or school for clothing, car decorations, and social media posts; as well as physical violence for engaging in pro-Palestine demonstrations, and in some cases for nothing more than appearing to be Arab.
Possibly more surprising is the behaviour of some elected officials. On Thursday, Republican New York City council member Inna Vernikov brought a gun to a pro-Palestinian demonstration. She was arrested the next day for criminal possession of a firearm after being photographed at the rally.
Many are comparing the recent attacks on American Muslims and Arabs to the aftermath of 9/11, in which people from those backgrounds, or even appeared to be, faced an uptick in harassment and scrutiny.
"It's really created a culture of fear in the community throughout the country," Chris Habiby, government affairs and advocacy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), told The New Arab.
"In some ways it's worse," he said, referring the aftermath of 9/11, when politicians gave speeches urging the public to respect different communities.
On Thursday, Abed Ayoub, executive director of the ADC, reported on X: "We have received multiple calls today regarding Palestinian nationals detained by ICE, and/or visited by the FBI."
He continued, "The FBI has also visited multiple mosques today, in different states, as well as Arab inmates. This is a troubling trend."
With Hamas' surprise attack on Israel on last Saturday -- the biggest attack on the country in 50 years -- it was to be expected that tensions would boil over beyond the region. Extra police officers have been deployed in major cities near mosques and synagogues in anticipation of potential hate crimes in major cities.
However, with public sentiment overwhelmingly supporting Israel, many Arabs and Muslims in the US are left feeling vulnerable.
"The switch has flipped very quickly," Edward Ahmed Mitchell, national deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told TNA. "In some ways, it looks like we've gone back to the time when Trump was running for office."