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Many Muslim business owners watch sales fall

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    Assalamu alaikum, Many Muslim business owners watch sales fall By Lorrie Grant, USA TODAY http://www.usatoday.com/money/general/2001-10-04-islamic-biz.htm
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2001

      Many Muslim business owners watch sales fall

      By Lorrie Grant, USA TODAY


      October is shaping up to be a bad month for restaurateur Hafiz Abbasi.

      Weekend wedding celebrations and engagement and retirement parties at his
      Afghan Restaurant key moneymakers all have canceled through Oct. 26
      after the terrorist attacks. Sales at his Alexandria, Va., restaurant, not
      far from the Pentagon, are off $30,000, about 40%, since Sept. 11.

      "They say they are scared there may be some retaliation because the
      restaurant says 'Afghan,' " Abbasi says.

      His is just one of many Muslim-owned businesses reeling from effects of
      the attacks. For some, the fallout has gone beyond lost business to
      vandalism and threats.

      Through Tuesday, 785 incidents nationwide of Muslim harassment had been
      reported to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Incidents have
      ranged from street-level pestering to alleged unfair interrogation by
      government officials and law enforcement, watchdog groups say. And some
      incidents could intensify if the USA takes military action.

      "It will be perceived as patriotism," says Agha Saeed, chairman of the
      American Muslim Alliance. "When you feel justified in doing it and
      colleagues look the other way, the perpetrator becomes bolder."

      For now, many Muslim-owned businesses are attempting to keep a lower
      profile. Some have pulled out of public events. At the same time, some
      Islamic events where they would do business have been canceled.

      Noor Arts Production in Dearborn, Mich., figures that about 10% of its
      annual sales have been wiped out by the recent cancellation of major
      annual Islamic conventions in Chicago and Los Angeles. The company markets
      its Muslim children's books, audio and video tapes, and software to
      conventioneers. About 8,000 people usually attend the Chicago convention
      and 3,000 in Los Angeles.

      "They were canceled because of the attacks and fears that there might be
      an attack where we are, too," says Noor Arts' Yeser Abdelbary, who is from

      Business also is off for real estate agent Ahmad Fawad of True-Vision
      Network Real Estate in San Jose, Calif. He usually hosts open house visits
      on the weekends but says traffic plummeted 60% just after the attacks and
      remains soft.

      "It's not back to normal," says Fawad, who fled Afghanistan 16 years ago
      after the Russian invasion. "It is still down about 20%."

      He blames some of the sluggishness on the slowing economy, rather than on
      reluctance to do business with a Muslim, however.

      In Toledo, Ohio, used car sales at First Step Auto were "completely dead,
      frozen" for days, says owner Bassem Kareem, a naturalized American from
      Palestine. Customers now are showing up at the dealership, but business is
      still off more than 25%. "People are mad right now," Kareem says.

      Some religious groups and others are trying to counter that anger.
      Mohammed Alo, secretary general of the United Muslim Association of
      Toledo, says members of about 40 Christian churches are patrolling a
      mosque and an Islamic school after reports of drive-by shootings.

      And some Muslim businesses report a similar outpouring of goodwill from
      those trying to counter anti-Muslim sentiment.

      Tiger Lebanese Bakery, which has sold Middle Eastern foods in Toledo since
      1971, had a 10% sales jump following the attacks.

      "We had seen people who had not been here for a while," says owner Abdul
      Hammuda, who is from Lebanon.

      Other shop owners are optimistic that business will return and harassment
      will wane.

      Abbasi of the Afghan Restaurant, for example, says he is no longer dealing
      with phone calls charging, "You blew up my country."

      And he says the reopening of nearby Reagan Washington National Airport
      will speed a return to normal sales.

      "We get 35 people a day who are National Airport employees, and my menus
      are at the hotels."

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