The seven-million strong American Muslim community has reacted, with grief and fear of backlash at the shooting at Fort Hood in Texas by Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. All major Arab and Muslim organizations were swift in unequivocally condemning this heinous incident which claimed the lives of 13 people and injured scores more. Within hours after the attack, all major civil advocacy Arab and Muslim groups and Islamic Centers vehemently denounced the vicious attack and stressed that "No religious or political ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence."
Fearing a backlash, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) called upon law enforcement agencies to provide immediate protection for all Mosques, community centers, schools, and any locations that may be identified or misidentified with being Arab, Muslim, South Asian or Sikh as a clear backlash has already started. "The actions of a few should not invite a backlash on innocent members of any community and we urge law enforcement and others to keep that in mind."
The Arab American Institute (AII) pointed out that thousands of Arab Americans and American Muslims serve honorably everyday in all four branches of the U.S. military and in the National Guard. "Additionally, many of our sons and daughters have willingly stepped forward to fulfill their duty with their fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the globe." Courageous Muslims like Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, praised by Colin Powell in his endorsement speech of Barack Obama, gave his life for his country, and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the honor of being buried in Arlington cemetery.
American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Right and Elections, an umbrella group representing major Muslim organizations, urged the national political and religious leaders and media professionals to set a tone of calm and unity. However, predictably this tragic incident once again provided fodder for talk shows and websites, which exploit such isolated events to ratchet up Islamophobia.
For example: Fox News host Shepard Smith asked Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas on air: "The name tells us a lot, does it not, senator?" Hutchinson's response was: "It does. It does, Shepard." As John Nichols, author of "Horror at Fort Hood Inspires Horribly Predictable Islamophobia," said with those words, the senator leapt from making assumptions about one man to making assumptions about a whole religion. What could Hutchinson have said that might have been more responsible response? She could have emphasized that the investigation of the shooting spree has barely begun.