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Arabs are victims of abuse in US post 9/11


Washington : A quarter of Arab Americans have experienced personal or familial abuse because of race, ethnicity or religion since 9/11, says a new study.

This is the first representative, population-based investigation of the health and psychological impact of Sep 11 on Arabs and Muslims living in the US, the researchers say.

Muslim Arabs also reported higher rates of abuse than Christians, said Aasim I. Padela, clinical instructor in emergency medicine at the University of Michigan (U-M), who led the study.

Padela says these victims showed a higher probability of psychological distress, lower levels of happiness and poorer perceptions of health status.

What’s disturbing about the findings is that residents in Greater Detroit live in a large, well-established Arab community, where they might be expected to be protected from abuse, Padela says. Most of the respondents also had access to health insurance.

“Negative associations of perceived post-9/11 abuse or discrimination might be much worse in less concentrated Arab populations within the US,” Padela says.

Nearly half a million Arabs reside in Michigan, and more than 80 percent of those live in Detroit’s Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Arabs are the third largest ethnic population in Michigan, with a history dating back multiple generations. This community is the largest concentration of Arabs outside of the Middle East.

Padela and co-author Michele Heisler, U-M associate professor of internal medicine and health behaviour, used data from a face-to-face survey of Arab Americans administered in 2003.

Racial and ethnic abuse and discrimination can have lasting effects, and many of those afflicted may not be seeking adequate care, Padela says. Some may fear racial or ethnic discrimination from health care providers, he says.

“We know that anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate crimes are still higher than they were pre-9/11,” Padela says.

The study was published online in the American Journal of Public Health.