Densho Oral History - Nadine Hamoui

Uploaded by DenshoProject on 03.12.2009

Me and my parents moved up here to Seattle ten years ago, in '92,
and we've been up here for ten or so years.
And when September 11 happened, and fifteen FBI and U.S. marshals and two INS agents
razed our home, the first thing I thought about was Pearl Harbor happening all over again.
And, I mean, my heart goes out to all the Japanese, not because I had to experience it personally, but
from the moment that I learned it in high school, what happened,
and to the African Americans and the slavery time and all of that.
So, I just, all I kept thinking was because I'm Arab. Because I'm Arab.
Just like they picked up all the innocent Japanese,
they're going to pick me and my parents up - or my family up. And for sure they did.
February 22nd was a Friday, and it was a national holiday.
The night before, my mom stays up all night to make a really fancy dinner.
And she didn't sleep until 3. And they came into our house at 5:45, 6 o'clock.
Banging on the door. And I'm thinking it's a dream, because I was downstairs, and so I just,
I wanted to, I was trying to comprehend, what is this banging? Am I dreaming?
So I stood in the hallway and I didn't know that two of the officers were coming down.
They were sneaking down to kind of just barge into the rooms, the bedrooms.
And so I'm just standing in the hallway and my lights was off because I'm still trying to know what's going on.
And he popped out at me, out of the hallway and I scared him and he scared me, and
he just pulled his gun and put it right in the middle of my forehead.
And I just like freaked out. I put my hands up and I was like, opened my eyes like an owl.
And then he was, like, "Who's with you?" And I was like, "My fourteen-year-old sister. Please don't hurt her."
And he goes, "Go upstairs and sit with your family."
So I went upstairs and
I can hear my mom in the background, arguing, and when I finally got to comprehend what was going on,
the officer was in her room yelling at her, asking her if she was naked, or asking her if she had a gun,
and she kept telling him, "No, I need to put my scarf on." 'Cause she wears the scarf.
And so he would not leave her. And when I finally understood what was going on, I told his officer, I told the female officer -
and it was the only female officer out of the fifteen guys that, the fifteen agents that were there.
I looked at her and I said, "You better go over there and tell your partner to leave my mom, because he is,
he is just breaking the rules right now. She has every right to practice her religion,
and she needs to cover before he, before he goes barging in."
And he ended up, he wouldn't even let her. He followed her to the closet, and
he took her outside, and then she ended up bein' seen by all the fifteen strange men,
which is against the religion.
And I'm sure God knows and he understands, but still, it was just the fact that they,
they broke the right of freedom of religion right there.
You know, it shouldn't, it shouldn't take us, like it took the Japanese.
I mean, we need to all like, just stand together. Japanese, Chinese, African, Arabs, everybody.
Because it keeps happening. History keeps repeating itself.
And history doesn't repeat itself, it's people that repeat history.
And if we just keep letting that history repeat, we're never going to get anywhere.