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Long Island

LI Muslims say they face scrutiny because of bomb case

In this photo posted on the social networking

In this photo posted on the social networking site Orkut.com, a man identified by neighbors in Connecticut as Faisal Shahzad is shown. Photo Credit: Orkut.com via AP

Some Long Island Muslims say the intense scrutiny of the Pakistan-born U.S. citizen accused in the botched Times Square bombing has spilled over into their everyday lives.

The scrutiny comes as the government tries to figure out who helped fund suspected bomber Faisal Shahzad. Last week, federal agents descended on locations in Shirley, Centereach, New Jersey and New England. One of the men whose house was searched, Mohammad Iqbal of Shirley, said his 9-year-old son now fears being called a terrorist.

Shahid Ali Khan, president of the Pakistani American Association of North America, said he's "really bothered" by comments questioning the loyalty of his fellow Muslims.

Khan, a businessman from East Northport, said one of his friends, who also owns a business, heard a customer say, "Go back to your country where you came from."

"It really bothers me. We have nothing to do with this kid," Khan said of Shahzad.

The tension prompted Khan to have a heart-to-heart with his son, a freshman at Stony Brook University. "I said, 'Listen, be careful. Maybe you'll see some backlash. Watch yourself,' " Khan said.

On Long Island, there are about 4,500 Americans of Pakistani ancestry, according to the 2000 Census. A 2005 Newsday article said 70,000 Muslims lived on the Island, citing an estimate by the Islamic Center of Westbury.

Isma H. Chaudhry, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani American Community of Long Island, an advocacy group, said she backs the authorities' actions - calling the investigation vital to keep "all of us to be safe, for our nation to be safe for our kids."

"I think the authorities should really do everything in their power to make sure they get to the bottom of this thing," said Chaudhry of Manhasset, a physician.

Based on media reports she's seen about the case, she said: "I think they're investigating whoever they need to be investigating."

She added: "It's the job of the authorities to make us safe, and it's our job as citizens to support them."

Abdul-Lateef Poulos, the imam of a Shirley mosque on which reporters descended after an erroneous tip that the FBI had raided it, questioned whether a suspected criminal of another religion would draw criticism of other members of that faith. It's a "double standard," he said.

"Because they are Muslim and we are Muslim, we end up having all this attention on us," he said.

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