Backlash Against Muslims And Others Raises Concern

Some coast residents are concerned about the funny looks they've been getting in the wake of last week's attack on America.

Across the country, there's been a growing backlash of resentment against people of Middle Eastern or Arabic descent.

In extreme cases, ignorance or misunderstanding about ethnic background has resulted in hate crimes. The weekend shooting death of a Pakistani store owner in Dallas is believed to be such a case.

There have been no reports of such violence in South Mississippi, but some who look Middle Eastern or Arabic are worried about stereotypes and misconceptions.

"We love all mankind. We love all the people in the world. We need to be part of this great nation," said Balwant Singh as he decorated the front of his Pascagoula home with patriotic colors and symbols of his Sihk faith.

He worries that misconceptions about the way he dresses might lead some to wrongly associate him with the likes of Osama bin Laden. His religious outfit includes a turban, long robe and flowing beard.

"It has nothing to do with the terrorist folks which have dressed like us. They may have a different reason. But we don't have that reason. What they are doing, we have no connection with them at all."

He wears a turban and has a long beard because of his Sihk religion. The bracelets he wears are also associated with that faith.

"I am so fortunate. I have been treated nicely. But there are a hundred, more than a hundred incidents that happened with all Sikhs throughout the United States. But we are trying to prevent that from happening here."

American misunderstanding about ethnic and religious background has resulted in a significant loss of business for one coast merchant.

This Biloxi dry cleaners is owned and operated by a family from India. They're of the Hindu faith. But many customers can't. make that distinction.

"We lost about 25 percent of the customers. They think we are Pakistan or we are from Afghanistan and we are from Asia-India," said Prasant Patel.

The lost business grieves his father, who still owns a farm in India and is going through the citizenship process to become an American.

They try their best to explain to customers, hoping to erase any confusion.

Both father and son believe that concerns about their ethnic background have contributed to lost business since the tragedy last Tuesday.