Reported by Qurratulain Wahab, JEDDAH — The killing of an Indian man in the US state of Kansas three
days ago by a gunman who yelled, “Get out of my country!” has shocked many expatriates in Saudi Arabia. For children of a large number of longtime expatriates in the Kingdom, the US remains the first destination of choice for higher education.
Sadiqa Tarannum, a Jeddah-based Indian educator, described the attack as an act of racism. “What is shocking is that this is happening in one of the most developed countries of the world,” she said. “To know that this is happening in the 21st century and that people are being killed because of their color and their origin is horrible.” “As an Indian and as a human being, we must stand together and protest this kind of racial discrimination and all other kinds of discrimination that are taking place today,” said Tarannum. To whether she would send her children to America for higher education, she said: “I was hoping to send my son but now I am having second thoughts. This is happening everywhere. Last year something similar happened in Australia. There is no longer a safe place.” She felt the election of Donald Trump had exacerbated the situation. “Definitely it has,” she said, “because the president holds such biased views against people of different colors and religions.”
Aparna Anand, who graduated from the Indian school in Jeddah, said: “The fact that people still judge others by colour tells us that they have not developed mentally. I will surely consider America if I get a good job offer. I won’t hesitate. But if such cases (of racial attacks) keep happening, then I might have to rethink.” She made another valid observation. “We should not avoid going there, because if we do so the racists will have won. We must definitely go there,” she said.
Nayeem Zahed, an engineer by profession, said such attacks were a result of no gun control. “Guns are very easily available to people in the US. A person who is not mentally stable can get a gun and commit a crime and this goes on. There is a lot of frustration and when they express it, it often takes the form of racism.” He said incidents of racism had increased since Trump took over. “The racists have been emboldened by Trump’s victory. Trump is someone who reached great heights through his racist comments so of course people
will do exactly what he does. And this will go on,” he said. He said racism is not just a part of America. “It is in every corner of the world. Some places there is little and in other places more,” he added.
Nishat Fatima, a popular teacher in Jeddah, said many Indians love America more than they love their own country. “When we think about America, we are well aware that at a certain point, we will have to face racism no matter what,” she said. “But there are actually two faces of America. If you look clearly, you go there for learning and the experience of being with Americans, but it’s like you don’t get any respect over there. So why not stay in your country or go to countries which respect you? Racism cases in America have been very common for a very long time,” she said.
Tanya Sequeira, a student of architecture, said: “We Indians have been victims of racism right from the beginning. This is not new to us. We must raise our voice against racism and fight back.”
Ibrahim Quraishi, a young and talented engineering student from Dammam, said he was not surprised at all. “It’s 2017 and yet humans collectively still can’t accept that we are a diverse group and people are swayed for petty reasons like racial diversity combined with negative patriotism,” he said. He added, however, “This won’t stop me from going to the US.”
Samia Khan, a research scholar at King Abdulaziz University and a distinguished Toastmaster, was very sad, but cautioned that it would be wrong to generalize that all Americans are bad. “I know that racism and negativity are spreading fast and that is really sad but I don’t think everyone is like that,” she said. She took a fatalistic view of life. “If anything bad is written in your destiny, then you can’t stop it from happening,” she said. “Racism is growing. In some countries it is growing fast.” She said this would not stop her or her children from going to
America. “I might tell my children to look for other options as well but America, even after so much, has got the best universities, the best researchers,” she said. “Such racist incidents do not affect the universities — and the quality of education America provides still remains the best.”