Fox 7 Austin

Posted by Fox 7 Austin on September 02, 2014 in News Clips

The Arab American Institute Foundation reports that as of 2010 there are roughly 200,000 Arab Americans living in Texas with many right here in Austin.

Syrian born Zein Al-Jundi says she is heartbroken by the horrific images coming out of the Middle East. 

"That can't be happening to the country I know. They are beheading children. it's beyond comprehension," Al-Jundi says.

Al-Jundi owns The Arabic Bazaar, a store she says was inspired by the traditional Middle Eastern market. She used to travel to Syria several times a year to stock her shelves with wares from the country. But the civil war and the surge of ISIS militants have left her scrambling.

"It was half of my products. so you can say at least for a bit of time it was half of the income that we had," Al-Jundi says.

More than a financial toll, Al-Jundi is afraid what she'll find if she ever goes home. "I can't imagine how the country is right now living. I can't imagine if ISIS does prevail. if they continue doing what they are doing what Syria will be like."

Al-Jundi came to America decades ago. She says many of her friends and family have resisted leaving but now may not have a choice. "You can just imagine the fear factor in this. If missiles everyday and uncertainty of a war that is not ending doesn't do it. This will do it."

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have seized control of large parts of the two Middle Eastern countries. For the second time in as many weeks, ISIS has released a video allegedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist. Though the State Department says they are working to authenticate the video, a spokesperson for the Steven Sotloff family says they have seen the video and are grieving privately.

Al-Jundi, an American citizen, says she is horrified by the executions. She adds that many in Austin's tight-knit Middle Eastern community are worried about the fallout here at home. 

"I refuse to give in to that line of thinking. I opened this store literally less than two weeks before September 11 and if I let myself get into that type of living and thinking, I wouldn't be here today," Al-Jundi says. 

She is however afraid that ISIS' reign of terror will make its way into our backyard. 

"This is a problem that is going to be so far reaching beyond the borders of these countries. this should never have happened. ISIS should never have been given the opportunity to become what they have become already. and today before tomorrow they need to be stopped," Al-Jundi says.

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