Since September 11th, attacks against immigrants have grown fast and furious and people from the Middle East, South Asian and Muslim communities in the United States have been especially targeted.
In a recent shocking case in New York City, two 16 year old Muslim girls, one from Bangladesh, Tashnuba Hayder and the other from Guinea, Adama Bah, were detained in April 2005 for six weeks based on flimsy reports, later proven false, that the girls were potential recruits for a suicide bomb plot.
Shortly after the father reported that his daughter had stayed away from home overnight, two investigators, who later turned out to be FBI agents, appeared at the family?s home and claimed that they worked with a youth center and wanted to talk with the daughter. Twenty days later, immigration agents arrived at dawn and took the teenager away.
Tashnuba met Adama for the first time at an immigration detention center. When they gave each other a traditional Muslim greeting federal agents assumed they were friends and linked them both to the alleged plot to become suicide bombers. The Tashnuba told her mother during a brief detention visit that FBI interrogators warned her that unless she confessed to terrorist ties, her two youngest siblings, who are American citizens, would be placed in foster care and her parents would be sent back to Bangladesh without them.
After six weeks, no evidence was produced linking the girls to any type of plot and the girls were finally released. Following her release, Tashnuba, her mother and two brothers left the United States.
Adama?s schoolmates at the Heritage School in East Harlem decided to make a public artwork project about her case last spring. Many at the school viewed Adama?s detention as unjust and incomprehensible and the project was ?a way for the students to use art to speak out at a time when a lot of people, including adults, were afraid to do anything? according to an art teacher at the school.
The art display has been exhibited at Columbia Unviersity?s Teachers College. According to Adama, the students said ?they just wanted to let my story be heard and help me out.?