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.