Television

BBC Urdu's new series to examine US post 9/11

LONDON: BBC Urdu is launching a 10-part weekly series Uncle Sam ka Des (The Land of Uncle Sam) starting on 10 August 2003. The main focus of the series is to take a closer look at how the United States has changed in the two years since 9/11.

The show looks at how Pakistani immigrants from rich professionals in Houston to struggling taxi drivers of New York - feel about their adopted country and how they are coping with the new realities.

The series looks at the US' history with special reference to native Americans, issues of race and poverty and the apparent growing influence of religion in American society. Interviews for the series were conducted over a three week period in June 2003 in Boston, New York, Washington DC, Phoenix and Houston.

Most of the Pakistanis interviewed said they had been investigated by the FBI at some point. Physicist and former consultant at NASA's Johnson Space Center Dr Bashir Ahmed Saeed said, "They showed up at my office one day and asked questions for 90 minutes on nuclear technology and my views on Al-Qaeda." Interestingly he is a green card holder and has been living in the US for over 30 years.

Therefore it is not surprising to note that many economic migrants, living mostly in the New York area, complained of worse treatment. One of them claims that earlier this year, FBI agents broke into the houses of a number of suspected illegal immigrants.

In the series it also comes out that thousands of people were detained and then denied access to their lawyers. Many have either been deported or had to be released after months of unlawful detention because the authorities could not find anything against them.

Pakistan's Honorary Counsel General in Boston for 27 years Barry Hoffman noted that, "America has always been a country of immigrants who came here for freedom, liberty and a better future," remarked Barry Hoffman. But the way present administration has targeted a particular group of immigrants in the name of homeland security, that's going too far. It's un-American!"

Responding to allegations of an anti-Muslim bias, US officials point out that those who carried out the 9/11 attacks did slip through the immigration network, came from a particular region and claimed to be acting in the name of a particular religion.

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