Muslims In Spain Live Under Cloud Of Suspicion

MADRID, Spain (AP) – At Mussa Bachiri’s butcher shop, the customers used to include a man now jailed on suspicion of playing a role in the Madrid terror bombings of 2004. The alleged bomber was just a casual acquaintance who ran a cell-phone store down the street. Still, Bachiri wonders if he is not somehow tainted by association – simply for sharing the man’s Moroccan roots and Islamic faith. My Spanish neighbors look at me the way they always did, Bachiri said, pausing on an afternoon of chopping beef and slicing liver in Lavapies, an immigrant-rich district of Spain’s capital. But deep down inside, who knows? Two years after the massacre that killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,500, human rights groups and Muslims themselves say with relief that there has been no significant backlash against Spain’s estimated million-strong Muslim community. But Muslims feel targeted in subtler ways – a rise in job application rejections, trouble finding housing, grumbling from neighbors when they want to set up a mosque. This is not something you can measure. But people live it. They notice it, said Begonia Sanchez, spokeswoman for immigrant aid group SOS Racism. They notice it when they get on the bus. They notice it when they seek work. They notice it when they run into neighbors in the stairwell. Islamic militants claimed responsibility for Spain’s worst terrorist attack, saying they acted on behalf of al-Qaida to avenge the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq.