In Brooklyn, 9/11 Damage Continues


The signs in Midwood, Brooklyn, surfaced slowly at

first. Curry packets at the New Apna Bazaar started to

accumulate. The line of cars at the Sunoco station

began to thin.

And then the crowd dwindled at Friday Prayer at the

Makki Mosque on Coney Island Avenue. This, among

worshipers once so numerous they prayed on the street

for lack of room.

"Now the rooms are empty inside," said Danieyel

Yaqocb, 32, a taxi driver who lives in Midwood. "It's

hard to live here now. People don't have too many

friends like before."

In this heavily Pakistani community, the word "before"

begs no further explanation. It refers to a crucial

turning point  Sept. 11, 2001  in this

neighborhood's modern history, a date that marked the

start of an exodus of thousands of Pakistanis and the

arrival of a new discomfort in day-to-day living for

those who remained.

Arrests, closer scrutiny and an increased threat of

deportation have plagued Arabs and Muslims nationwide.

In New York, Egyptians, Moroccans, Jordanians and

Lebanese have seen numbers of detentions. But no group

appears harder hit than the Pakistanis.

Before Sept. 11, an estimated 120,000 Pakistanis lived

in Brooklyn, concentrated in Midwood and Brighton

Beach. Since then, between 40 and 50 percent have been

detained or deported or have left on their own, said

Bobby Khan, executive director of the Coney Island

Avenue Project, which was formed after the attack to

help Arabs and Muslims who were detained.

Some Pakistanis have migrated to Canada, while others

have returned home, leaving divided families behind.

About 1,000 have been detained, and 80 percent of them

have been deported, Mr. Khan said.

"Even with the papers, people are scared of what's

going on and they feel it's safer to move somewhere

else," said Mohammad Iqbal, 45, who owns the New Apna

Bazaar on Coney Island Avenue.

For Mr. Yaqocb and his friend and fellow taxi driver,

Mohammed Ihsan, the heightened scrutiny translates to

many sad interruptions in routine. The two men used to

meet with a group of friends to watch cricket on

satellite television.

Now they fear a meeting would suggest subversive

behavior, or pique the suspicions of, perhaps, a

building superintendent.

"We can't get together," said Mr. Ihsan. "If you're

sitting at someone's home, six or seven guys, they'll

ask, 'Why are you sitting there?' "

The economic fallout of this exodus, matched with New

York's struggling economy, is also widely apparent.

Pakistani-owned stores have closed, or are on the

brink of going out of business. Mr. Iqbal, whose

grocery sells lentils, paprika and other products for

Pakistanis as well as kosher and Russian products,

said he had seen business drop by half in the last 18


Mr. Yaqocb, the taxi driver, waved a hand south along

the shopping strip of Coney Island Avenue. "This used

to be all Pakistani stores. Now it's become Russian


The Arab exodus has also surfaced in sudden requests

for one-way tickets out of the country, said a travel

agent in Downtown Brooklyn.

"When they come, they ask for a one-way ticket because

they have to go. We don't ask them any questions,"

said the travel agent, a 31-year-old Sudanese who

spoke on condition of anonymity.

For 18-year-old Sameena Kausar, among the harder

things to witness is the drain of fellow students in

her Koran class and services at the Makki Mosque.

"It was crowded before," she said. "It's not many

people now."


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