Arab and Muslim students at the University continue to receive e-mailed threats in the wake of the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and shook the nation”s sense of security.
Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown said students have received threats via e-mail but have not reported any other form of discrimination or violence. “We haven”t had reports of any physical or verbal threats,” she added.
Brown said DPS is conducting an investigation into the threats and that any additional threats should be reported.
LSA junior Brenda Abdelall, external relations chair of the Arab Student Association said the Ann Arbor Police Department has also been notified of the harassing messages.
Psychology Prof. Jennifer Crocker said the e-mails reflect feelings of confusion and anger.
“All of us, when we feel attacked and threatened, tend to react with feelings of anger and hostility and blame,” Crocker said. Although Osama bin Laden remains a prime suspect in the terrorist attacks, Crocker said that part of the problem is that there is no one person to blame for the attacks and people may lash out at an entire group who they perceive to be responsible for the attacks.
Crocker said the threats could make students who received them feel very vulnerable.
“They feel visible and they probably feel like they don”t have a lot of support,” Crocker said. Eventually, these feelings may develop into feelings of anger, sadness and isolation, she added, stressing that friends can provide a very important support.
Abdelall spoke last night at the Michigan Student Assembly meeting, asking the assembly for support and encouragement. She also passed some of the e-mails around so assembly members could further understand what Arab American students are going through.
Abdelall said the threatening e-mails weren”t the only messages in her inbox.
“We”ve been getting a lot of very sweet e-mails,” Abdelall said. She said there have been messages from other students expressing support for Arab Americans.