Immigrants here report no problems

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 24, 2001

Osama bin Laden, the leader of a Muslim extremist group, hasbeen named the prime suspect in the search for those responsiblefor the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Fear that more terrorists reside in America has led to violentacts against anyone who even remotely resembles bin Laden’scharacteristics of dark skin and hair, long beard and a coveredhead.

While other cities across the United States are trying to calmthese violent acts, most Brookhaven residents have joined to fightagainst such acts of discrimination.

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“We haven’t had anything bad yet, no phone calls or nothing,”said Nayan “Neal” Patel, who grow up in India, but has resided inBrookhaven and been an American citizen for about a decade,.

He and his family, who manage two local hotels, have heard aboutthe violence on the news, but they do not foresee any acts inBrookhaven.

“Everyone knows us since we’ve been here in Brookhaven since1992,” Usha Patel commented.

Since the terrorist attacks, only two Indians out of about adozen living in Brookhaven have experienced negative comments.

“Some people tease us a little and ask us what we’re doing herein this country,” said Ronnie Malhotra, who works at one of thethree local gas stations owned by his uncle, Surinder S. Uppal, anAmerican citizen from India.

Local residents of India descent are saddened by thediscrimination against people who do not even share common beliefswith bin Laden.

“We are Hindu. It is different from Muslim,” Patel said. “We areagainst what he (bin Laden) did to us, Americans.”

Another Brookhaven resident, who came from Lebanon 30 years ago,explained that even Muslims do not agree with bin Laden.

“I am a Christian, but I studied Islam for five or six years,and I know they don’t teach what this guy (bin Laden) has done,”Asem Zeini said. “There is a lack of knowledge out there. Peopledon’t see that there is no connection.”

Zeini described bin Laden as similar to David Koresh, who taughtan extreme form of Christianity.

The message that Hindu faith is far from bin Laden’s belief hasapparently even streamed into area schools, where Indian childrenare not afraid to attend classes.

“They have not had any problems,” said Balu Zaveri, who owns alocal motel, of his two children.

Zaveri believes his children will not encounter any problems inthe town they have called home for five years.

Brookhaven residents who moved here from other countries arethankful the community is so caring and understanding. And, theysaid, their hearts now belong to Brookhaven and America.

“I feel like everyone here feels. I feel like we’ve beenattacked,” Zeini said.