in the offices of the Arab American News newspaper in Dearborn
Michigan, the capitol of America’s Arab
are about 100 Arab newspapers in this country but the Arab American news is one
of the few and maybe the only one that has its own building and a fulltime
staff that churns out a newspaper not once a month, not once every two weeks
but every week.
is the deadline and Osama Siblani is working with a full staff of reporters to
finish the layout for the latest edition which goes to the press tonight and
will be distributed throughout Michigan, the
Midwest and other cities across the United States.
big news today is the killing of an African American Imam at a mosque in nearby
Detroit by the
FBI. Six of the imam’s followers were arrested. The incident involved a
shootout between the members of the mosque and the FBI agents who charged the
Imam was planning to organize violent attacks against American targets.
American press is all over it but the Arab American news, which publishes in
Arabic and English, better understands the issues of Islam and the differences
between Sunni’s, Shi’ites and the African American Islamic sects.
Arab American News is located on Chase off Ford Avenue in the heart of Dearborn’s
30,000 Arabs and Muslims. The newspaper is celebrating its 25th year
and is distinguished by publishing one fresh edition every week that is never
under 48 pages.
issue is 52 pages but the largest we have published is 72 pages,” Siblani says
between directing the editing of a story and its placement and my queries from
a nearby desk.
is also the president of the Arab American Political Action Committee, which
celebrates its 12th Anniversary tonight with a banquet where I will
be performing standup comedy and satire on American politics, Arab American
life and culture.
typewriter keys on five computers are buzzing. It reminds me of my days working
as the City Hall reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times back in the 1980s and
1990s. It’s all done electronically these days. In the old days, we’d call our
stories in and dictate the sentences over the telephone. Now, the stories are
typed and typeset all in one motion using complex software.
Dearborn is unique for
many reasons. It is the one place where all the different Arab sub-groups at
least pretend to get along. In Chicago,
they stay apart. In Los Angeles,
they separate themselves by country clubs. But in Dearborn, they all come together because they
recognize that the simple formula for empowerment that power starts at the
grass roots level, not at the top offices of the President or the U.S.
a result, dozens of candidates, including many of Arab heritage, Muslim and
Christian, are running for election in Michigan’s
general election Tuesday, November 3.
get this amazing sense of cultural Arab pride when I drive through Dearborn and see the
billboards with Arab names and Arabic writing. Every corner has an Arab
restaurant, shop or retail establishment.
names of the candidates vary and represent what every other community continues
to try to achieve, complete diversity.
benntt. Rose Mary Robinson. Mohamed Okdie. John O’Reilly. Hussein Berry. Abdul Algazali
and Abdalla Awwad. The big candidate is Ali Sayed, a life-long Dearborn
resident only 28 years old who is seeking a position on the Dearborn City
council. The list of candidates names running for the Dearborn City Council are
all Arab except one, Brian O’Donnell.
candidates will be feted at the AAPAC dinner and their slogan this year is one
that only Dearborn
has been able to achieve: “Strength in Unity.”
the street from the newspaper’s offices is the country’s only Arab Museum.
Arab living in America
should make one trip to this city at least to see with their own eyes what true
Arab involvement in American society could be like someday in their cities.
inspirational. And I’ll leave with a sense of where Chicago’s divided and distraught American
Arab community might one day reach. I hope other cities will also do the same.