Washington, Sept. 17 —Two fatal weekend shootings may be part of an anti-Muslim backlash in response to last week's terrorist attacks, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said.
There have been more than 350 incidents of anti-Muslim threats, harassment and violence since jets crashed six days ago into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the group said. That almost equals the 400 annual complaints the council receives, said Ismail Royer, its civil rights coordinator.
"We are Americans and we should not be judged on our looks, on our last names, on the way we dress, on the way we talk," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the council. "We all came on different ships, but we are all in the same boat."
A gunman shot Balbir Singh Sodhi, 49, a Sikh owner of a Mesa, Arizona, gas station, the Arizona Republic reported. Sikhs, who are neither Arab nor Muslim, are often mistaken for Muslims because they wear beards and turbans in observance of their religion that originated in India.
In Dallas, Waqar Hasan, a Pakistani Muslim storeowner, was shot and killed Saturday. The FBI is investigating whether the murder should be categorized as a hate crime, the council said.
Since the terrorist attacks, the group received reports of 10 shootings at mosques and Muslim-owned stores, five arson attempts, three bombings, including a Long Island, New York, restaurant, and a man who drove 80 miles per hour into the Islamic center in Cleveland, Royer said.