Anti-Middle Eastern sentiment

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Anti-Middle Eastern sentiment is feelings and expression of hostility, hatred, discrimination, or prejudice towards the Middle East and its culture,[1] and towards persons based on their association with the Middle East and Middle Eastern culture.

United States[edit]

In 1993, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee confronted The Walt Disney Company about anti-Arab racist content in its animated film Aladdin. At first, Disney denied any problems but eventually relented and changed two lines in the opening song.[2] Members of the ADC were still unhappy with the portrayal of Arabic characters and the referral to the Middle East as "barbaric".[2]

Hate crimes against people of Middle Eastern origin or descent increased from 354 attacks in 2000, to 1,501 attacks in 2001. Among the victims of the backlash was a Middle Eastern man in Houston, Texas, who was shot and wounded after an assailant accused him of "blowing up the country", and four immigrants shot and killed by a man named Larme Price, who confessed to killing them as revenge for the September 11 attacks. Price said he was motivated by a desire to kill people of Middle Eastern descent after the attacks.[3] Although Price described his victims as Arabs, only one was from an Arab country. This appears to be a trend; because of stereotypes of Arabs, several non-Arab, non-Muslim groups were subjected to attacks in the wake of 9/11, including several Sikh men attacked for wearing their religiously-mandated turban. Price's mother, Leatha Price, said that her son's anger at Middle Easterners was a matter of mental illness, not ethnic hatred.[3]

One widely publicized incident was the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi. The term "towel-head" is a pejorative reference to Middle Eastern and Arab headdresses including turbans and is mainly used to refer to both Arabs and Middle Eastern terrorists. Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Sikh turban wearers usually wind their turban anew for each wearing, using long strips of cloth that are usually five meters or less. However, some elaborate South Asian turbans may be permanently formed and sewn to a foundation. Turbans can be very large or quite modest dependent upon region, culture, and religion.[4]

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought charges against NCL America Inc., alleging that the company discriminated against seven crew members with Middle East backgrounds. The suit, filed on behalf of the employees, stated that the discrimination led to the plaintiffs losing their jobs aboard the cruise ship Pride of Aloha. The 2006 lawsuit had the company deny the allegations, refusing to accept that it had acted improperly in firing the seven Middle Eastern crew members. Sources stated that the two sides reached a settlement agreement, in which NCL America Inc. has agreed to pay $485,000 to resolve allegations. Additionally, the company also agreed to revise its policies to ensure a workplace that promotes equal employment opportunities.[5]

In an interview with a conservative website, Saucedo Mercer, a Mexican immigrant who became a U.S. citizen, talked in depth about her views on immigration. She stated the issue was important because people from places other than Mexico were among those coming across the border illegally.

"That includes Chinese, Middle Easterners. If you know Middle Easterners, a lot of them, they look Mexican or they look, you know, like a lot of people in South America, dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes. And they mix. They mix in. And those people, their only goal in life is to, to cause harm to the United States. So why do we want them here, either legally or illegally? When they come across the border, besides the trash that they leave behind, the drug smuggling, the killings, the beheadings. I mean, you are seeing stuff. It’s a war out there."[6][7]

After the Boston Marathon bombing, before the perpetrators Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were identified, several young men, mostly South Asian or Middle Eastern, were convicted in the court of public opinion.[8]


Attacks in Spain, London, and Bali have increasingly associated people of "Middle Eastern appearance" with terrorism.[9] A clearer picture of the impact of these events on Sydney's Muslim, Arabic, and Middle Eastern population emerged from data collected from a hotline between September 12, 2001 and November 11, 2001 by the Community Relations Commission for a Multicultural NSW, during which time 248 incidents were logged. There were seven categories of attack: physical assault; verbal assault; sexual assault; threat; racial discrimination or harassment, damage to property; and media attack. Half of all victims were female; seven out of ten were adults. The largest language groups to use the hotline were Arabic, consisting 52.4% of calls. 47.2% of the incidents occurred in public spaces.[9]

On 11 December 2005, a violent mob of about five thousand young white Australians gathered on the beach at Cronulla, New South Wales. Waving Australian flags, singing Waltzing Matilda and Australia's national anthem, the mob verbally abused and physically assaulted anyone of Middle Eastern appearance.[10] Five thousand people reportedly gathered at the site and marched through the streets of Cronulla, attacking anyone who they identified as Middle Eastern.[11]

One victim recalled how the violence erupted when a man deemed to be "of Middle Eastern appearance" was walking along the beachfront with his girlfriend and "two girls turned around and screamed ... 'get off our f__king beaches' [and then] the whole street turned on them"[11] The riots put the spotlight on two segments of Sydney's population (the white, Anglo-Celtic majority and a Middle Eastern minority) and two parts of the city: the Sutherland Shire Local Government Area (LGA), located in Sydney's southern suburbs where Cronulla Beachis located (known as the Shire); and the Canterbury and Bankstown LGAs, located in south-western Sydney, where most of the city's Lebanese and Middle Eastern immigrants live.[9] Middle Eastern males were tagged as criminal and un-Australian by the media brush of ethnic crime.[9]

In another incident, two Bangladeshi students were apparently suspected of being Muslims and chased up the street by a violent mob. They managed to escape in their car, though it was attacked and pelted with bottles. In another incident, two young men of Middle Eastern appearance, on their way for a swim, were mobbed and beaten on a train carriage, with both responding police officers and a nearby press photographer fearing there would be a killing.[12]

The latest incident occurred in 2011, when criminal lawyer of Middle Eastern background, Adam Houda,[13] was arrested for refusing a frisk search and resisting arrest after having been approached by police, who suspected him of involvement in a recent robbery. These charges were thrown out of court by Judge John Connell, who stated, "At the end of the day, here were three men of Middle Eastern appearance walking along a suburban street, for all the police knew, minding their own business at an unexceptional time of day, in unexceptional clothing, except two of the men had hooded jumpers.[14] The place they were in could not have raised a reasonable suspicion they were involved in the robberies."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Middle Eastern Americans and the First Amendment - Academic Commons". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  2. ^ a b "Arab Stereotypes and American Educators". American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Archived from the original on April 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  3. ^ a b "Police Arrest Brooklyn Man In Slayings of 4 Shopkeepers - New York Times". 2003-03-31. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  4. ^ "Turban profile. Information about Turban. Asia culture and attractions". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  5. ^ "Cruise lines to pay $485,000 settlement in employment lawsuit". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  6. ^ "Gabriela Saucedo Mercer: We don’t want Middle Easterners in U.S. | TPMMuckraker". 2012-08-28. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  7. ^ "Candidate Criticized for Anti-Middle Eastern Remarks - Arizona Public Media". 2012-08-29. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  8. ^ Berrett, Dan (2013-04-20). "After Boston Bombing, Fears of Backlash Against Muslim Students - Students - The Chronicle of Higher Education". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  9. ^ a b c d [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 17, 2013. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Jayde Cahir1 (2013-04-14). "Balancing Trust and Anxiety in a Culture of Fear". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 23, 2013. Retrieved June 1, 2013. 
  13. ^ Tineka Everaardt (2013-03-20). "Targeted through racial profiling - Today Tonight". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  14. ^ Mercer, Neil (2011-11-12). "Suing police again, the lawyer of Middle Eastern appearance". The Border Mail. Retrieved 2013-09-14.