Pakistanis or Arabs?

Via Al-Muhajabah, I found an interesting article in the Detroit Free Press.

A new national poll challenges the view that Arab Americans were the only victims of bias and profiling after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

A survey conducted by Florida-based Bendixen & Associates found that Pakistani Americans reported higher levels of discrimination and government targeting than Americans of Arab descent.

About 31 percent of Pakistani Americans said they have experienced discrimination in their schools, workplaces or neighborhoods over the past three years. Twenty-one percent of Arab Americans made the claim.

When it came to profiling, 16 percent of Pakistani Americans said they had been mistreated or targeted by government officials because of their background, compared with 11 percent of Arab Americans.

Asked who did the profiling, 63 percent of Pakistani Americans said it was local police. Among Arab Americans, 36 percent said they had been targeted by airport security, and 21 percent answered that they had been targeted by local police.

The head of the polling company, Sergio Bendixen, said one reason why Pakistanis reported higher levels of profiling by police officers may be because they, in general, tend to have darker skin than Arab Americans, and therefore may raise the suspicions of some people in law enforcement.

Others said that religion may be a factor. The vast majority of Pakistani Americans are Muslims, while at least half of the Arab-American population is Christian, experts say.

I have anecdotal evidence which supports this article, but anecdotes don’t make data since there is an inherent bias (due to the ethnic composition of the people I know, for example) in my anecdotes. Among my acquaintances, I had noticed that most complaints about profiling and harrassment came from Pakistanis than from Arabs. For example, most of the students I know who were interviewed by the FBI after September 11, 2001 were Pakistanis. I had always put this down to the fact that I know many more Pakistanis than Arabs or Iranians.

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. In my IPE (International Political Economy) class, we’re studying different ideologies regarding the world’s polticial system. One such ideology, known as dependency, is apparently deeply rooted in countries like (just opened up a can of worms) Pakistan. Basically, our general national attitude is such that we blame the developed world for our dependence upon it. We blame the developed world for the fact that our exports can be substitued. We blame solely the developed world, an external factor, for our own internal problems.

    Considering my last visit to Pakistan, I’m disappointed that this assertion is not entirely inaccurate. It seems as though people would rather portray themselves as victims of the man, than to actually own up to their dilemmas and try to WORK to solve them.

    I don’t know. Are we just a nation of complainers? I feel really sorry for people who are profiled at airports and what not, especially since I’m one of them (see below***), but sometimes I feel like Pakistanis think they are the only* ones going through it.

    ***A member of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport personnel once asked me if I could remove my scarf, as there could be something under it. Hmmm. If I ‘could’, I probably wouldn’t go through all the grief of being “randomnly” selected for security checks =)

  2. Shey: On average, Pakistanis do look more “different” than Arabs do as compared to the average American. So that is a possibility.

    Nida: Your assertion about dependency is indeed somewhat valid for Pakistan and Pakistanis.

    About profiling, people usually take different impressions of such things. There was definitely an impression of vast profiling and harrassment of Pakistanis/Muslims among the Pakistani community in Jersey, for example. In some cases, it was the wrong impression, like I know X, a Pakistani, got fired because of some issues (unrelated to his ethnicity/religion) but almost all of X’s acquaintances think he was fired because he is a Pakistani Muslim.

    My own observation about my lots of Pakistani and a few Arab acquaintances at Tech is that more Pakistanis got interviewed by the FBI in the September 2001 to January 2002 timeframe. This might be a completely wrong impression though. It would be interesting if someone did a study on the topic.

  3. Nida i think you are right in some ways. We have become a nation of whiners who would like to blame everything on the developed world. But isnt this the case with all of the under developed world. Incidently 99% of the under developed world is Muslim.
    One thing that has gone wrong is that we over time have been made to mistrust our abilities. OUr confidence has been shattered. We think that we are the worst nation on th face of the earth because we are corrupt and all. No one realizez th efact that we are no fifferent from the rest of the world and that we are just as corrupt as any nation. we are just as useless as any nation.
    The time requires that we have faith in our abilities. And that can be achieved through good leadership. That we are lacking. So be a leader and come back to Pakistan once you are done with your studies if you can and be the vector for change.

  4. Moiz, not a bad idea. I’ll be “the vector” if you make du’a for me to get accepted to a non-state-of-Georgia law school. I think you’re right. We Pakistanis are unhealthily impressed by our colonizers. We don’t even take pride in our own tongue. My family moved back to Rawalpindi when I was in the 5th grade. Get this: I was enrolled in a school called “Westridge Academy”…don’t make me puke. As if the name of the school wasn’t white enough, there was a rule that you would be fined every time you spoke Urdu outside of, well, Urdu class. There was a small group of girls who used to climb to the top of the monkey bars and whisper quietly in their mother tongue, AS THOUGH THEY WERE CRIMINALS. Sounds like something out of a George Orwell novel. hmmm….perhaps I should write a novella.

  5. Westridge Academy

    I think I have seen that school. I didn’t study in such “fancy” schools. Mine was English-medium but we spoke Urdu to everyone and even the lectures were a mix of English and Urdu.

  6. “Fancy”? (It was actually, in my opinion, a third rate school.) Regardless, when one visits Pakistan, it is strange how impressed many middle and upper class individuals are by the West, especially the United States. Added to that, one can’t exactly pinpoint as to what they are impressed with. Certainly, there is some degree of obsession with popular culture. Some folks are entrenched in this delusion grandiose that life in the US is all about living in palaces and driving BMW’s, really fast, of course all without having to work too hard. And to top it all off, “educated” people are fluent in English and converse in English rather than Urdu, or in my family’s case, English rather than Punjabi.

    Of course, I’m referring to people of my own generation…we seem to be lost, and utterly blind. The Pakistan I envisioned was one where nobility was determined by virtue and knowledge, rather than by wealth. My grandmothers did not come from particularly affluent families, if anything far from it, but they were perhaps the most refined people I’ve ever met. It seems as though their generation was trained to value time and activity, and to abhor frivolty and idleness (such as mindlessly posting on other people’s blogs:p ). One was required to read books, embroider, learn math, cook, clean, be polite, master etiquette, acquire from the elder generation(s). I don’t understand. The formerly described are what one would assume of Western elites. However, in Pakistan, women of even mediocre classes were trained as such. So why then are we so hell bent upon yanking our culture out by the roots, and planting new seeds?

  7. Nida: My impression is that in Pakistan we are rejecting some of the good aspects of Pakistani culture for the bad parts of western culture while rejecting what we could really learn from the west.

    On the other hand, the nostalgic great age of our grandparents’ generation did not exist in reality. 🙂

  8. “the nostalgic great age of our grandparents’ generation did not exist in reality. :-)”

    You laugh, without realizing my entire being has been atomized. “:(“

  9. Pakistan on a scale, to this day is No1 as a military- mighty in the Muslim world. Not having the benefit of the black gold (oil) as most of Arab countries has, she still manage to master the capability of being a power-full solidarity and has become a quite strong voice on a world forum. Nevertheless, any newly invented country does go through to a rocky, volatile, dangerous phase to what Pakistan is going through.
    Due to the destabilisation in a political grounds with the recent events geographically and politically, that it would be so conjuncture if, Arabs should forget about themselves and come out from their debauchery style and manners for a short and concentrate on Pakistan with the full economic backing to build the fast forward growth economies to take it in to the next level of up front sustained proprietary for a benifit of our faith and lands and also, it would help build a plat-form for our future generations to stand strong in coming of tomorrow’s world.

  10. pakistanis and arabs belong to the same breed you morons. hell im an australian outback and know that much! you see…pakistan sits at the point between west and south asia. some will place it in west asia..others including the media place it in south asia. due to its positioning in the was a frequent target for invasions by the arabs and arabian muslims. reasons being, to spread both islam and the empire that went with it. hence that is why so many pakistanis and arabs are unable to distinguish themselves from one another until they speak. now to me…adding them to the arab mix wont complicate things. will only make it easier for us to place them in the world. one minute they are south asians, next they are middle eastern. the same goes for iranians and turks. to me..they are all the same breeds. fair to say, pakistan is slightly more different..especially seeing alot of its population is not ‘pakistani’. by this i mean that they have a strong migrant population which is fast growing. but the ‘original’ pakistanis are mostly arab/persian by descent.

    to only clarifies the matter.

  11. james: Who uses “breed” for humans? And if you mean Pakistanis and Arabs are related, may be you haven’t noticed that there’s a continuum of relatedness from western Europe South Asia and beyond.

    it was a frequent target for invasions by the arabs and arabian muslims.

    Actually Arabs did not invade Pakistan/India that much. Most of the invasions from Central Asia.

  12. ofcourse not, arabs and pakistanis are of two different cultures, and putting them together is just like putting a italian with a russain. Anyways yes we are being targeted because of our brown skin, and this is just immature of the vast majority of people to actually believe the media. Long story short, try and find out who the real criminal is. And majority of Pakistanis are of Indian descent and have been Muslims for generations, all u make it sound like Pakistanis aren’t even human. Calm down, just because we have tanned skin don’t mean you got to trash talk.

  13. Pakistanis are mixed (multi ethnical backgroudn) people. Vast majority of Pakistanis are from Persian/arab descent. Also Pakistanis looks like the typical arabs of Saudia Arabia and Emiraties..

  14. I’m a Pakistani Kashmiri, and I know that we are not of Indian decent, bcoz we look nothing like them physically, our language is different from theirs and not to mention were Muslims. So the person who posted the garbage above better get his/her facts straight, b4 they make stupid comments. I understand Pakistanis who have dark skin might think that way, but they should find the facts b4 posting crap. Pakistanis (About 90 % indiginous) are mostly of Persian/Arab/Turkish and other central Asian ethnic groups.

    Also our countries biggest problem is lack of education, and the fact that I think most of us are waiting for some one to come along and save us from things that are plaguing our country. The west does have some responsibility, but its true we are mostly to blame for our own problems. If we want Pakistan to bcome a great nation we need to make sure we can stand on own 2 feet, were not arabs no ones gonna come and help us & especially not the Arabs, they only use the garbage that were all brothers bcoz its customry 2 do so, in all muslim cultures. We have to undo the shakles which are holding us back.

    Regard from A Pakistani.

  15. Who says porkistanis are of arab/persian descent ? 99% are indian converts to islam.
    Now to get some money out of arabs, they are claiming to be pure moslems and praying etc.. they can do anything for money. look how they sell out to america.
    Pakistan powerful ( I read somewhere!) God you guys have delusions of grandeur. Good, till reality hits you. All scum, thats what porkistan is !

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