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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
US 'revenge attacks' alarm India
Relatives of Balbir Singh Sodhi, an immigrant from India, comfort each other at the scene of his shooting in Mesa, Arizona
American Sikhs feel they are being targeted
India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has appealed to President George W Bush to protect Indian citizens living in the United States after a Sikh was shot dead in Arizona on Saturday.


They come to our store, tell us we are terrorists and ask us to go back to our country

Latwinder Singh

Mr Vajpayee telephoned the US president to voice his concern after several reports of attacks against Indian citizens - apparently motivated by revenge in the wake of last week's attacks.

The increasing incidents of verbal and physical abuse come despite an appeal by President Bush that Muslims and Arab-Americans should not be held accountable.

Arizona attack

A Sikh, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was killed on Saturday when a gunman drove into the Arizona service station which he ran and fired three shots.

Mr Sodhi, originally from Punjab, had lived in the US for about 10 years and his family said he had been planning to return to India to be with his wife and a son.

"We don't deserve this kind of treatment," said Mr Sodhi's younger brother Lakhwinder Singh Sodhi.

A Palestinian-American participates in a candlelit vigil in New York
Arab-Americans are horrified by the attacks

"Since we wear turban and beard, 99% of Americans think we belong to Bin Laden. They come to our store, tell us we are terrorists and ask us to go back to our country," Latwinder Singh said.

A man from Phoenix has been charged with his murder but police said it was too early to tell whether the shooting was racially-motivated.

Muslim vigil

American Muslims, however, have been alarmed by the rise in reports of physical or verbal abuse directed against members of their community.

There have been several incidents in Texas and Virginia of shots fired at mosques and Arab-owned shops and Muslim associations across the country have received threatening phone calls.

Over 1,000 Americans of Arab, African and Pakistani origin marched through New York on Sunday to show their support for the US and their rejection of terrorism.

"We are here to express our sorrow. We mourn the innocent victims of New York and as American citizens we are outraged by these terrorist acts," said Bassam Amine, a chemist and director of Brooklyn's Muslim school.

Marchers carried banners bearing the slogans: "Terrorism isn't Islam", "Love and peace to New York" and - in response to President Bush's declaration of war on terrorists and countries accused of harbouring them - "Another war is not the answer".

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The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"America's political leaders have warned against vigilante or revenge attacks"
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