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Gun Violence Makes Pakistani-Americans Wary of Future

  • Azhar Fateh

Events of mass-murder like December's school killings in the state of Connecticut have horrified people throughout the Unites States. But they are especially distressing to immigrants who came here to escape violence - hoping for peace and a better future.

Gul-Afshan Haque is a Pakistani-American, who moved to the US in 2006 to live with her parents. For her, the events have cast a pall on her American dream.

"When I was in Pakistan and I came here, I had a dream of a peaceful living but, nowadays, because of these incidents, though the dream is still there, but it is not at the same level as it is, was before," she said.

The violence directed at others has made her fearful for her own future.

"We're not the victim now. But we might be the victim in the future. We might be the next one," she said.

A survey by the Weekly Pakistan News, a New York-based newspaper that publishes in seven major U.S. cities, reveals that most South Asian immigrants want tougher gun laws.

"Mostly, not only Pakistani, but Indians and Bangladeshis, one point they are agree that gun control should be changed," said Mujeeb Lodhi, the newspaper's chief editor.

The survey resonates with Gul’s uncle, Ainul Haque, who fears for the future of his nieces and nephews.

"I suspect that they might experience in their schools but I hope, I pray by the grace of Almighty Allah, that they don't come across situation like that," he said.

At odds with a culture of gun ownership in many parts of America - most Pakistani-Americans don’t keep weapons. As Gul's uncle and mother point out, few have ever even used one.

"In my country and neither here, never used," said Farzana Haque, Gul's mother.

Where do Pakistani-Americans fit in the spectrum of U.S. opinion? Philip Kasinitz is a professor of sociology at the City University of New York.

"If immigrants and Pakistani Americans in particular were to, say, come out against hunting, that would put them at odds with the dominant culture in large parts of the United States. However, if what they have objection to is the ownership of assault rifles, military style weapons, I think American opinion is really changing on that," said Kasinitz.

Pakistani-Americans hope the violence will subside if stronger national gun laws are enacted, and believe President Barack Obama’s proposed legislation is a step in that direction.
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