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Boycott Targets New York Paper

An Arab-American group has launched a boycott of the New York Post and is urging hundreds of Muslim and Arab-American newspaper vendors to stop selling the newspaper.

Flyers distributed by the Arab-American Muslim Federation accuse the newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, of being biased against Muslims.

The flyers distributed throughout Brooklyn - the most populous of New York's five boroughs - urge New Yorkers to stop buying, selling or even reading the Post, in light of the "increasing level of hatred" in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 on the United States by Arab hijackers.

"We met with people from the Post twice and we asked them to stop spreading the hate in our society. They refused," says Zein Rimawi of the Arab-American Muslim Federation, which is based in Brooklyn.

A spokeswoman for the Post confirms that the meetings took place and says that the paper stands by its coverage.

According to Rimawi, a number of mosques and Arab churches, concerned that the newspaper's domestic coverage and its reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is biased against Arabs and Muslims, are backing the action, which started small, by word-of-mouth.

"It has become very obvious that the 'war on terrorism' is actually a 'war on Islam' ... We see many members of our community imprisoned and detained for months without any pressed charges against them ... the assets of many of our charity organization have been frozen," says a pamphlet distributed by the group.

The Bush administration has responded to the hijack attacks that killed more than 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania with sweeping new security measures, rounding up hundreds of immigrants and investigating links to terror financing.

Rimawi says he hopes vendors in New Jersey will join the boycott next month. Boycott organizers are also hoping to expand their campaign by working with other, larger Muslim groups in the U.S.

He claims that between 400 and 500 newspaper vendors have agreed to stop selling the Post, but the Post says those numbers are way off.

"The number is significantly smaller than that," said a spokeswoman for the Post. "We stand by our coverage. As often happens on sensitive issues, some members of the community have expressed concerns and we listen to those concerns," she added.

In March, the Post reported daily circulation of 562,639 over the past six months.