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Hasan Jalisi is a doctor and a real estate investor. A Pakistani immigrant, he lives with his wife and two children, both American-born, in Baltimore. He has a medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University. He interned at the Cleveland Clinic, which sits adjacent to an aging neighborhood dubbed Little Italy, filled with osterias and pizza parlors. There, the old Italian women thought he was one of their own. Jalisi just didn’t sound Pakistani, they said. Years later, Jalisi still laughs when he thinks about it. “Jah-LEE-see,” he mimics. America has treated him well. Still, he’s getting ready to leave. He’s bought a house in Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, and has enrolled his 10-year-old daughter in private school there. His family splits their time between Baltimore and Pakistan, where Jalisi has opened a charitable medical clinic. Right now he’s staying here. But he talks of a “sense of fear,” about “what may happen.” He says the American public has been poisoned, and he worries for his children. Today, he’s sitting in a ramshackle office on the outskirts of the city, home to the Islamic Society of Baltimore. He is pleasant and smiles readily. He notes, with some satisfaction, that we have both gained weight since we last saw each other four years ago, when I interviewed him for a special report on 9/11. “Life has been good to you, too,” he says. But although things have gone well for Jalisi, they have not gone nearly so well for thousands of his Muslim brothers and sisters. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, took an ethnic group that largely lived in quiet oblivion and thrust them, squirming, into the spotlight. Before, Muslims were too diverse to live in the kind of enclaves that defined neighborhoods like Cleveland’s Little Italy. They prided themselves on assimilation. They didn’t develop political muscle. They played no role in popular culture. In short, when 9/11 happened and when, in the minds of many Americans, the word “Muslim” became shorthand for “terrorist,” there was a muted counterargument and few public advocates. In the weeks after the attacks, Jalisi, who was living the archetypical assimilated life as a doctor and property owner, became an overnight activist. When he found out that a support group didn’t exist to help the more than 1,200 Muslim men who were rounded up by the Justice Department in a post-attack sweep, he created one of his own. He matched up detainees with lawyers. He corresponded with despondent prisoners and raised money to help families. And he found his role in life, albeit reluctantly. Now those early days are distant. Almost all of the detainees are gone, deported. Some were jailed. Most gave up the fight, although there are still a handful of lawsuits over the detentions. “A lot of people got tired of paying lawyers,” Jalisi says. Others have passed on. Four years ago, while I sat in Jalisi’s Baltimore office, he received a call from an Egyptian man named Said Malek, who was imprisoned in a Pennsylvania jail. Today, Jalisi tells me that Malek was held for more than a year and died five days after being released. His health had deteriorated while on the inside. Malek’s wife is back in Egypt with their children. Jalisi still receives e-mails from her. Jalisi is conversant in American history. He talks of the Palmer raids of the early 20th century, when suspected Eastern European communist sympathizers were rounded up and deported. He references the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II. And there are even more obvious parallels. “It happened to the blacks, to the Jews,” Jalisi says. “I guess we have to just find our way out of this.” Now, he says, he’s resigned to being detained whenever he flies between the United States and Pakistan, accustomed to the questions in small, windowless rooms. It’s the cost of doing business � not just for him but for Arab Muslims in general. His friend sitting with us, Abid Husain, mentions his 18-year-old son, born in America, a college student, who was detained for hours flying from the United Arab Emirates back to the States. “He doesn’t even have an accent,” his father says. Like Jalisi’s, his tone is more perplexed than indignant. A physician, Jalisi is more comfortable with the language of medicine than that of militancy. He says that in the weeks and months after 9/11, discrimination against Muslims was in its “acute” phase. Now, he says, it’s turned “chronic.” “Then,” he says, “we were in the phase of being flabbergasted. Now it’s an everyday thing.” Still, Jalisi praises the United States. He calls it the greatest nation in the world, and champions its free press, something that doesn’t exist in Pakistan. He doesn’t want to leave. And he isn’t expecting federal agents to kick down his door. He isn’t paranoid. But he is cautious. In fact, so many Pakistanis are securing property in their homeland that the real estate market in Karachi is hotter than Washington’s. “I don’t want to end up like Said,” he says. He says the one benefit of 9/11 and its aftermath is that Muslims feel more of a shared identity � and indeed, sitting here inside a fenced compound along the Baltimore Beltway, it’s hard not to feel like this is a sort of a refuge. “I never called myself an American Muslim. But now we are Pakistani-Americans or Arab-Americans,” he says. “That’s a little sad.”
James Oliphant is editor in chief of Legal Times . His column runs twice a month.

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