- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

Jibran Khan has been dragged into a new and perilous world following the horror of Sept. 11, 2001.
The 22-year-old Herndon resident is one of them now, an Arab-American who, unfortunately, is guilty until proven innocent, who has no easy answers, no simple solutions, no idea where all the outrage is really leading.
He just knows he feels it each day from his tiny part of the world in Northern Virginia. He sees it in the eyes of those disturbed by his Middle Eastern features. And he hears it on television in news reports that detail this or that attack on an Arab-American or an Islamic place of worship.
His mosque in Herndon was vandalized last week, the objection made with spray paint, with unsettling clarity: "Muslim Pigs," the vandals wrote.
"People should view the Arab-Americans around here as being aligned with them," Mr. Khan says. "Be mad at those who did this and not the religion."
This is the reasoned view being expressed by America's leaders, the clergy and anyone with a clear sense of who we are, which is this incredible melting pot of all the world's peoples, even the kind who share the same ethnicity as Osama bin Laden.
His has become the face of evil, along with the accessories that go with it: the white turban, the long beard, the dark eyes. He does not look right in the images being beamed on television, of which Americans are certain. He has exported his twisted convictions to these shores and turned a nation upside-down in large ways and small, in ways still to be determined, in ways still being explored. How American are you?
Mr. Khan is as American as the next American, whatever that notion means to each American, if it means he was born at Fairfax Hospital and is a senior at George Mason University. He also tends to pout after the Redskins lose. Or he would pout before Sept. 11.
Don't bother being amused by his devotion to the Redskins. He knows. It's silly. The outcome of a game, like everything else, seems so small in comparison now, almost nothing amid the rubble, the loss of so many lives and Uncle Sam's response ahead.
He also follows cricket, which reflects his Pakistani origin. His parents emigrated to America in 1977, coming to this land in search of opportunity, a better way of life, coming for the same reasons those before them came and still do.
Mr. Khan feels a connection to Pakistan, and in particular to the southern seaport city of Karachi, where his parents once lived, and he has visited over the years.
It is crazy over there right now, he says, with crazy being relative. Pakistan is wedged between a rock and a hard place, with India to the east and Afghanistan to the west. Pakistan remains in conflict with India over a piece of land known as Kashmir and is now the target of threats by the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
"I don't want anything bad to happen to Pakistan," Mr. Khan says.
But he is not too optimistic of what could happen there, of what could happen here, anywhere, really.
These are the dark times in which we live, and as an Arab-American, Mr. Khan feels it with an extra measure of intensity. His parents have encouraged him to curtail his activities, to limit his comings and goings to school, work and the gym, to places where he already is known. There is a whole lot of ethnic profiling going on out there right now, a whole lot of uneasiness, a whole lot of frightened souls trying to come to terms with the unthinkable, unspeakable, unconscionable.
He is not one of them, but he looks like them. That, too, is the conundrum before America. The hijackers looked like us, dressed like us, even, in some instances, drank alcohol like us before they demonstrated their despicable intentions. The awful truth is they still could be among us, waiting to strike again, waiting to tear out a nation's insides. It is crazy, all right, crazy on so many levels, as the Arab-American community in the region knows only too well.
This community, Mr. Khan included, is on its own kind of alert now, caught as it is in the blinding haze of terrorism and an unjust world.

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