Political TV ad targets W.Va. congressman’s Arab background

A West Virginia group, West Virginia Conservative Foundation, led by Republican tea party activists is running an ad attempting to connect longtime Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall to President Barack Obama, emphasizing the congressman’s Arab-American ancestry. In the ad, ominous music plays as Rahall discusses his chairmanship of the Arab-Americans for Obama group when Obama was a presidential candidate. The ad ends asking viewers to call Rahall and “tell him to stand with West Virginians.”

One of the leaders of the group paying for the ad, also contributes to a blog that has targeted Rahall and suggested he has ties to terrorists or their supporters.

Michigan’s smoking ban versus hooka business

New state law in Michigan bans hooka, the Arabic water pipe with flavored tobacco, from cafes serving their customers with food. Hooka will be offered only in specialty tobacco stores. The law is to be enforced on May 1, 2010. In Arab-American capital of the United States, the change implies important social impacts.

CAIR-Chicago Wins Bias Suit for Arab-American Officer

Jury awards correctional officer $200K for racial harassment at the workplace

(CHICAGO, IL, 7/24/09) – The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced a verdict in favor of an Arab-American correctional officer in a discrimination case litigated pro bono against the Cook County Sheriff’s Department by CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak.

The verdict awarded Officer Abraham Yasin $200,000 in damages for harassment found to be pervasive or severe enough to create a hostile and abusive work environment.

CIA launches recruitment drive on internet and TV

The Central Intelligence Agency is attempting to recruit more spies by advertising on the internet, radio, and television, and holding meetings with American Muslims to make up for a severe shortage of Arabic speakers.

Leon Panetta, the new CIA director, will meet with Muslim groups in cities such as Detroit to spearhead the new drive to recruit more Arabic speakers and Muslims. Urdu and Pashtu speakers are also among those being sought in the continuation of an anti-terror initiative launched by former U.S. president George W. Bush.

“We want to emphasize to those communities that we welcome first-generation Americans to apply. They bring critical language skills and a knowledge of culture to support our intelligence mission.” Earlier this month Scott White, third in command at the CIA, held meetings with Arab-American and Chaldean-American representatives in Detroit, which has heavily populated American Muslim suburbs. He told the groups that he would bring Mr. Panetta to a future meeting.

Barack Obama Now Holds Historic Lead Among Arab American Voters, Shift Toward Democratic Party Continues

WASHINGTON – October 28, 2008 – Democratic candidate Barack Obama’s substantial lead among Arab American voters has almost doubled since September. This was one of the findings of a poll of Arab American voters conducted by Zogby International for the Arab American Institute.
The poll also found that Obama’s lead over McCain only dropped by 1% when independent candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian Bob Barr were included in the survey questions.

Other key findings of the AAI/Zogby International study were:

  • While almost two-thirds of Arab Americans are impacted by the recent economic crisis, it is no surprise that the most important issue for Arab American voters is the economy, followed distantly by Iraq and health care.
  • Approval ratings given to the Bush Administration’s performance continue to fall to 11% from 19% in September.
  • The shift in party identification continues. The Democrat/Republican break in 2000 was 40/38. Now it is 54/27.
  • Obama leads McCain by a three-to-one margin in both the two-way and four-way match-ups. In the four-way horserace, it’s Obama 64/23; in the four-way, it’s Obama 62/22, with Nader at 6 percent. Projections are now for Election Day results with Obama at 68 percent, McCain at 24 percent, and Nader at seven.
  • Dr. James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, said that “A combination of factors point not only to a huge Obama victory among Arab American voters-but a dramatic surge in the percentage of Arab Americans identifying as democrats.” Noting that Arab Americans in Michigan represent about 5% of that state’s electorate, while in Virginia and Ohio they comprise almost 2% of the vote, he continued “this can have an impact not only in the presidential election but in down ticket contests as well.”

    In 2000, the overall Arab American vote was 44% Bush, 38% Gore, 13% Nader. In 2004, it was 63% Kerry, 28% Bush with 8% for Nader.

    Zogby press release available here.

    Full report available here.

    Barack Obama Holds Lead Among Arab American Vote

    Democratic US presidential candidate Barack Obama holds a substantial 21-point lead over Republican candidate John McCain among Arab American voters. Obama’s lead is one of the findings of a recent poll taken in the second week of September of Arab American voters, by Zogby International. The poll also found that Obama’s 54% to 33% lead over McCain was related to important issues – from jobs/economy, Iraq/peace/foreign affairs, and health care – in this particular order.

    Zogby poll page available here.

    Charity official’s arrest shocks Arab American, Muslim leaders

    Members of Detroit’s large Arab-American and Muslim community held a suspected conspirator with Saddam Hussein in high regard, and are having a difficult time coming to terms with the recent allegations. Federal authorities are accusing 48-year old Muthanna Al-Hanooti of conspiring with Hussein, and has been arrested and charged with setting up a 2002 junket to Iraq for three US lawmakers, secretly financed by Saddam’s government. Al-Hanooti was a nonprofit and charity executive in Michigan, and is accused of setting up arrangements between three anti-war Democrats in 2002. Al-Hanooti pleaded not guilty on Wednesday on charges of conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign government.

    Wal-Mart tweaks store for Arab-Americans

    The world’s largest retailer has opened an innovative new supercenter in Dearborn, Michigan. Wal-Mart’s new 200,000 square foot store will offer a special line of products geared towards the American Muslim and Arab American communities in the Detroit metro area, which is home to one of the largest communities of Arabs and Muslims in the United States. The store offers a variety of Middle Eastern food such as tahini, olive, traditional spices, and halal meat section. The store, which is still in the hiring process, presently employs about thirty-five Arab Americans. Many local business members are, however, worried. “There is a fear factor in the business community,” says Osama Siblani, publisher of Dearborn’s Arab American News. The fear rests on Wal-Mart’s all-in-one store and slogan of low prices will make prosperity difficult for many local business in the area. Wal-mart has agreed to make a promise not to undercut the prices of small local stores, and agreed to be examined by a community advisory board made up of local Arab-American leaders, to make sure that it isn’t endangering mom and pop shops. For example, Wal-Mart agreed to charge one dime more than local grocers for a package of pita bread.

    Muslim leader decries American ‘bigotry’ against Islam

    Hussein Ibish, founder of for Arab-American leadership in Washington DC told an audience at Tulane University that America’s cultural view of Islam and American Muslims is steadily deteriorating under an onslaught of bigotry in news programming, op-ed pieces, and in the blogosphere. Since 9/11, he said that commentators such as Malkin, Ann Coulter, Charles Krauthammer, Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz have transferred old anti-Arab stereotypes to Islam in “incredibly bigoted commentary” that would not have been tolerated before September 11th, 2001. “This is what explains the collapse of the good name of Islam,” said Ibish, who also believes that with this context, the West sees Islam as constantly suspicious, which thenceforth only further legitimizes the calls for ethnic and religious profiling.

    Arab American, Muslim Groups Disturbed By Ports Security Rhetoric

    By DEEPTI HAJELA NEW YORK — The political piling-on over a state-owned Arab business’ plan to run some American ports is causing concern among Arab American and Muslim American groups, which say the furor is fueled by racism and bigotry. “We’re very concerned about the level of rhetoric and the way that there seems to be the assumption that because a company is Arab it can’t be trusted with our security,” said Katherine Abbadi, executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of New York.