Washington: Fearing a backlash after a Muslim US Army psychiatrist allegedly killed 13 during a shooting rampage at a military base in Texas, a coalition of 26 South Asian organisations has appealed for communal harmony.
"We call on political leaders, the media, and the public to set a tone of unity as the investigation unfolds and the healing process begins," the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO) said in a statement issued Friday.
"Regrettably, in the past, the actions of one individual from a particular ethnic background or religious faith have led to the scapegoating of entire communities based on actual or perceived ethnicity, religion, and national origin," it noted.
Offering deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims, it urged community members to explore how they can provide support and resources to address the impact of the violence. "As our country moves forward, the NCSO shares our condolences and commits to participating in our collective healing process."
Suspected gunman Major Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire with two handguns at the Fort Hood Army post on Thursday, in one of the worst killing sprees ever reported on a US military base, army officials said.
The US-born son of Palestinian immigrants, Hasan`s Muslim and Arab heritage prompted immediate speculation on television stations and internet sites about his motives and whether they were influenced by his background.
Besides NCSO, some other US Arab and Muslim groups have condemned the shootings, offered condolences to the victims` families, and stressed that no political or religious ideology justified such violence.
A Justice Department spokesman said its civil rights division was unaware of any incidents of violence directed against Arab-Americans or Muslim-Americans since the shooting.
Hate crimes against Arab Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs rose after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The number has since declined but many Arab and Muslim Americans still report verbal abuse and harassment.
Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, urged "American Muslims, and those who may be perceived to be Muslim, to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves, their families and their religious institutions from possible backlash."
South Asian Organizations issuing the appeal were: Adhikaar for Human Rights, Andolan, Chaya, Coney Island Avenue Project, Council of Peoples Organization, Daya, Desis Rising Up and Moving, Hamdard Center, Indo, American Center, Manavi, Michigan Asian Indian Family Services, Narika, Raksha, Saathi of Rochester, Sahara of South Florida, Sakhi for South Asian Women, Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund, South Asian Americans Leading Together, South Asian American Policy and Research Institute, South Asian Council for Social Services, South Asian Health Initiative, South Asian Youth Action, The Sikh Coalition, Trikone NW, Turning Point and United Sikhs.