Broadening the Circle of Backlash

November 11, 2009

In the aftermath of the Fort Hood tragedy last week, several Sikh organizations (including the Coalition) sent out a joint email warning Sikhs to be alert of possible backlash against our community. The name of the shooter who killed 13 people on the military base – Nadal Hassan – put Sikhs around the country in immediate danger, given the high risk that we would be mistaken for terrorists and become the targets of hatred and violence because of the way we look.

But one of the first reports of a hate-fuelled beating as a supposed result of the For Hood attacks did not involve a Muslim or a Sikh or an Arab or South Asian. In fact, it was of Rev. Alexios Marakis, a Greek Orthodox priest, in Tampa. When he got lost on his way back from a blessing, the priest stopped a young man to ask for directions. That man turned out to be Lance Cpl. Jasen D. Bruce, a Marine Reservist, who proceeded to beat the priest over the head with a tire iron and chased him for three blocks. The Marine believed the Reverend was “an Arab terrorist” because of his limited English proficiency. Read the rest of this entry »