CHICAGO: While Arab Americans and Muslims suffered a spike in hate crimes after the September 11 attacks, they do not face the same level of disenfranchisement as their French counterparts, experts say. They’re discriminated against but they have jobs – this is the major difference from Europe, Yvonne Haddad, a professor of Islamic history at Georgetown University in Washington, said. Arab and Muslim immigrants in the US generally identify themselves as Americans and integrate with relative ease into a society that prides itself on social mobility and has more tolerance for cultural and religious differences, Haddad said. To identify as French you have to renounce your faith and have to renounce you previous identity as though your previous self didn’t exist. In the US you don’t have to, she said. Arabs are a tiny minority in the United States, making up less than 1% of the population, according to the census bureau. They also constitute only about a quarter to a third of the country’s Muslims, estimated at 6mn to 7mn people or about 2% of the population. Arab Americans and Muslims are better educated and have a higher income than the national average, said Edina Lekovic, communications director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council. There’s no clear connection between the European and the American Muslim experience, she said, explaining that Muslims in the United States are less isolated and homogeneous than their European counterpart. She cautioned against painting the riots as a religious issue rather than the result of economic and political disenfranchisement. This is the culmination of a series of events and it has very little or nothing to do with quote-unquote (Muslim) extremism, she said, noting that France has more Muslim-friendly foreign policy than the United States. French Muslims are not responding to the issues of Palestine or Iraq. They are responding to their domestic situation. The real parallel to the French riots is the African American race riots of the 1960s and following the Rodney King beating, said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. It’s the act of an underclass with expectations that have gone unfulfilled for a long period of time striking out, out of a combination of despair and anger, he said in a telephone interview. France and other European countries have maintained a national identity that is tied to ethnicity while the American identity has shifted over time as waves of immigrants reshape the country. As long as these kids grow up not only in an economic underclass but excluded from being French or Dutch it’s problematic, Zogby said. When people in my community get angry about American foreign policy they get angry as citizens and they fight back as citizens. The process is more open to including them. ?
WASHINGTON, April 28 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – A majority of Arab Americans in four battleground states would vote for democratic candidate John Kerry if presidential elections were held Thursday, April 29, a poll unveiled. The poll, conducted by the Washington-based Arab American Institute, found that 49 percent of all Arab-American voters in Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania – all swing states in the November election – would vote for Kerry, while 30 percent would vote for incumbent Republican President George W. Bush. However, with Ralph Nader – an American of Lebanese descent – in the mix, Kerry’s support would slip to 45 percent, and Bush’s to 28 percent, while the independent contender would get 14 percent of the vote. The poll is based on interviews with 503 Arab-American voters in the four states and has a 4.5 percent margin of error.
By LESLIE WAYNE Wealthy Arab-Americans and foreign-born Muslims who strongly back President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq are adding their names to the ranks of Pioneers and Rangers, the elite Bush supporters who have raised $100,000 or more for his re-election. This new crop of fund-raisers comes as some opinion polls suggest support for the president among Arab-Americans is sinking and at a time when strategists from both parties say Mr. Bush is losing ground with this group. Mr. Bush has been criticized by Arab-Americans who feel they are being singled out in the fight against terrorism and who are uneasy over the administration’s Palestinian-Israeli policies. Yet the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the war in Iraq have been a catalyst for some wealthy Arab-Americans to become more involved in politics. And there are still others who have a more practical reason for opening their checkbooks: access to a business-friendly White House. Already, their efforts have brought them visits with the president at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., as well as White House dinners and meetings with top administration officials. Many Arab-Americans left their countries because of political and economic oppression and are now small-business owners or entrepreneurs who say the Republican Party best represents their values.