SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Special Report

September 8, 2011

Muslim-Americans say their faith hijacked

LAWRENCE, Mass. — He's lived in Lawrence, Mass., for 13 years. He speaks fluent English. He is on the local zoning board and he's running for election to the school committee.

Couldn't get much more American than that.

Yet when Kemal Bozkurt travels — especially to and from his homeland of Turkey — he is treated like a criminal.

"I don't have a problem personally in the city or in my job," said Bozkurt, a librarian at the Lawrence Public Library. "But Muslim-Americans have been affected negatively. With Homeland Security, there is a paranoia."

Every summer, Bozkurt takes a trip to Turkey to visit relatives. And every year since 9/11, he has been detained on his return, sometimes for three or four hours, by government agents who ask the same questions over and over while his wife and children wait.

"When will this end?" asks an exasperated Bozkurt. "There are bad people in every culture and every religion. But because of a few bad people, we are all penalized."

As the nation reflects on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, perhaps no group of people in this country has been more adversely affected than Muslim-Americans. Whether it's profiling by airport security or anti-Islam slurs by bigots, Muslim-Americans have put up with a lot, said Bozkurt.

But it's not all bad, he said, noting the flip side of 9/11 has been the bringing together of people of different faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities.

"After Sept. 11, there were some good things," Bozkurt said. "Many Americans didn't listen to the media and the politicians. They found a Koran and learned what is Islam. When they found the real Muslim, they found that we don't kill. It's impossible," sad Bozkurt.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Special Report

Local News
  • Salem extends principal search SALEM -- Superintendent Stephen Russell has extended the search for three new principals, arguably the most important personnel decisions he will make in his three years as head of the public schools. Russell is about to hire principals to guide turn

    April 24, 2014

  • 140423_SN_KYU_CROSSWALK A safer place to cross

    PEABODY -- A little more than a year after tragedy struck, the new pedestrian traffic signal in front of St. Adelaide's Parish is installed and operational. "My dad worked his whole life in the service of his community, church and country, and it giv

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo 5 Stories

  • MBTA proposes commuter-rail fee increase SALEM -- The train to Boston is about to get more expensive. Across-the-board fare increases recently proposed by the MBTA would raise the price of single trips on the commuter rail by 25 to 50 cents and the cost of monthly passes from between $10 fo

    April 24, 2014

  • Unrepentant serial drunken driver gets 31/2 to 5 years PEABODY -- Despite what a judge and prosecutor called an attempt to "hijack" the proceedings in his case, a serial drunken driver from Peabody was sentenced to state prison yesterday. Right up to the end, Peter Hurley, 53, was adamant that he'd done

    April 24, 2014

  • pipes1 Sewerage repair delay sparks worry MARBLEHEAD -- Serious concerns are building over delays in the repair of a sewer pipe connecting Marblehead to the South Essex Sewerage District in Salem. The need for replacing the two pipes became apparent in March 2013, when one began to leak int

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos