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Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
Victim of 'hate crime' buried
Relatives mourn at the funeral of Adel Karas
Mr Karas came to the US to escape persecution at home
An Egyptian-born shopkeeper has been buried in Los Angeles, another victim in a spate of suspected hate crimes against people of Arab appearance following last week's terror attacks.

Adel Karas was a 48-year-old father of three who had run a shop in a Los Angeles suburb for the past two decades. He was shot dead there on Saturday.

Community leaders believe the wave of recent anti-Arab incidents are related to the identification of Islamic militant Osama bin Laden as the key suspect in the attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Mr Karas was in fact a Coptic, or Egyptian Christian, who reportedly fled religious persecution 22 years ago to build a new life for himself in the United States.

More victims

Federal investigators are looking into some 50 suspected hate crimes that have occurred in the wake of the attacks, which left more than 5,600 people dead or missing.

Mr Karas' death was not the first. A 49-year-old Sikh petrol station owner was shot dead in Arizona "for no other apparent reason than that he was dark-skinned and wore a turban", said the county attorney.

In Dallas, a Pakistani Muslim was also killed in an attack that was apparently racially motivated.

A father and son attend a prayer service at a US Islamic centre
US Islamic leaders warn people to be on their guard
Washington's Council on American-Islamic Relations has recorded more than 350 incidents of anti-Muslim harassment, while the United Sikhs in Service of America lists nearly 200 examples.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee raised concerns about violence against US Sikhs in a telephone conversation with President George Bush last Sunday.

Mr Bush, who wants the backing of as many countries as possible, has recently sought to impress on his people that his proposed war is not against Islam, but terrorists.

"Those who feel they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don't represent the best of America," he said at the Islamic Center in Washington earlier this week.

"They represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed."

Trials delayed

US judges have also have postponed several trials of Muslims amid fears that they are unlikely to receive a fair hearing in the current climate of racial tension.

Judges are concerned that jurors at trials of Muslims may hold views of the defendants strongly influenced by recent events.

In California, the case against an Egyptian immigrant accused of killing a child has been put on hold.

The judge in Santa Ana said he was dismissing 163 prospective jurors because it appeared John Ghobrial would not get a fair hearing.

He delayed the trial until 28 September to allow time for emotions to cool down.

In Atlanta, Georgia, a judge cited the same reasons for delaying the murder trial of a Muslim cleric.

Jamil Abdullah al-Amin is accused of killing a police officer and could get the death penalty if found guilty. The judge postponed the trial until January.

See also:

20 Sep 01 | Americas
FBI appeals to Arab-Americans
18 Sep 01 | Americas
US trials of Muslims delayed
18 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush condemns 'revenge attacks'
17 Sep 01 | Americas
A community under siege
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