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Discrimination Fails Us All
Chicago Sun-Times
December 04, 2005

By Ahmed Rehab


Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) believes peace activists from Egypt should be greeted at O'Hare Airport with a hefty dose of institutionalized discrimination. Their offense? Being of the same age group and national origin as Mohamed Atta. "I'm OK with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states," says Kirk.

A Sun-Times Editorial ["Telling it like it is," Nov. 9] endorses this view. It does not matter if you are a doctor from Jordan here to attend a neurological conference. It does not matter if you are an investment banker from Saudi Arabia here to create business opportunities. What does matter is where and when you were born; that is sufficient to render you suspect and qualify you for "intense scrutiny."

It comes as no surprise that Kirk's comments have spurred an outcry in Illinois. A coalition of 27 prominent organizations that include Muslim, Arab, Korean, Hispanic, Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran and Filipino groups, as well constituents of Kirk's 10th district, have joined voices to demand an apology.

So let's tell it like it is. In this country, discrimination has only ever been an acceptable recourse for the unimaginative and the uninspired. As we battle a ruthless and resolute enemy, we need to focus our national security measures on that which works: gathering enough hard intelligence to nab individual culprits. We should not adopt sloppy and desperate measures that implicate the entire class of people whose phenotype or passport a culprit happens to share.

Ahmed M. Rehab,

Council on American-Islamic Relations, Chicago

copyright © 2005, Chicago Sun-Times