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Arab World Nervous About Possible US Terror Backlash

The terror attacks in the United States and the subsequent calls for retaliation are raising fears in the Arab world that many innocent people from some countries will suffer because of what a few people did.

Three days after the terror attacks in Washington and New York, concern is growing in the Arab and Muslim world about how the United States and other countries will respond. There are increasing fears of a backlash against anyone of Arab or Middle East origin.

Sabry el-Shabrawi is a member of the Egyptian parliament and a professor of business administration at American University in Cairo.

"I expect the world will not be the same," he says. "There will be all sorts of backlashes. One if it may be economic impact here, definitely. Hopefully it will take some time, six months to a year, and then things will go back to normal. However, this terrorism act is completely beyond comprehension."

Mr. Shabrawi says anyone who is considering investing in the region will now have strong concerns about safety. He says, in order to address those concerns, Arabs and Muslims must work to fight terrorism.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, in a telephone call Friday, to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, condemned Tuesday's attacks and emphasized the need for international cooperation in the fight against international terrorism.

Egyptian newspaper columnist Fahmy Howeidi says the situation in the world, right now, is very tense for everyone, especially Muslims.

"I'm afraid of the generalization of punishing people who are innocent and who some sources in the U.S. can claim all of them are fanatics or extremists or fundamentalists and, in this case, will raise the anger in the area here and it may threaten many American interests in the area here," he says.

Some Muslims VOA spoke with indicated their family members living in the United States feared retribution because they are Muslim.

Milad Hanna is an Egyptian Christian who writes on religion. He says at times like this it is important that all people contain their anger.

"The wisdom of history teaches us that in crucial moments one [should] contemplate before he speaks and one [should] squeeze his anger [from] his heart," he says. "Therefore let me keep my fingers crossed that the world would win and the wisdom would win and the rightness would win."

In the days since the bombing, President Bush has called for the respectful treatment of Arab-Americans and Muslims in the United States and for all religions to unite against terrorism.