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Arab Americans Continue to Face Discrimination: Report

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Arab Americans continue to face higher rates of employment discrimination in both the public and private sectors and continuing challenges associated with government watch lists and immigration enforcement, according to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) "Report on Hate Crimes and Discrimination Against Arab Americans."

The report was announced on Thursday at a press conference in Washington by Lieutenant Colonel Lance Koury, a long-time member of the Alabama National Guard who for years has been subjected to a hostile and abusive work environment.  Lt. Col Koury also told his story in public for the first-time during the press conference.

The ADC said that in simply announcing the release of this report, ADC's Communications Director received a number of hate email messages.  One such message read, "Why do we not hear of these 'hate crimes?'  NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN all are in the pockets of the politically correct.  Why not ONE news story?  Could it be an overly sensitive Arab population who really doesn't give a damn about the U.S.S. Cole, 9/11/2001, Khobar Towers?  If you folks are so "hated" here why not go back to your own kind?  Simple solution and I seriously doubt you'd be missed in this, the greatest of all countries."

The report spanning four years (2003-2007) examines hate crimes against the Arab American community, employment discrimination in private and public sector as well as continuing challenges associated with government watch lists and media bias. It also focuses on discrimination and bias in primary and secondary educational institutions; discrimination and political harassment campaigns in higher education.

The ADC received an average of 120 to 130 reports of ethnically motivated attacks or threats each year between 2003 and 2007, a sharp decrease from the 700 violent incidents it documented in the weeks following the 2001 terrorist attacks. But that figure is still higher than the 80 to 90 reports it received in the late 1990s.

The report said that discrimination at airports based on stereotyping, over-zealousness or prejudice by airline personnel or even other passengers is now one of the main sources of discrimination facing Arab-American air travelers. "Arab-American travelers face serious issues with border crossing detentions and delays, especially on the U.S.-Canada border."

Arab-American students continue to face significant problems with discrimination and harassment in schools around the country, said the ADC report. "Arab-American students and faculty have faced increased levels of discrimination and political harassment campaigns, especially involving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and efforts by right-wing groups to stifle debate on U.S. foreign policy in academia."

The ADC report finds that defamation in popular culture and the media a very serious problem facing the Arab-American community. "In spite of a far better record from the film and television industry in 2003-2007, defamation spread wildly in the non-fiction world of television, magazines, radio, newspapers and websites.  A campaign of relentless vilification against Muslims and Islam has been the single biggest contributor to the collapse in American public opinion of Islam during this period."

The report pointed out that "Islamophobia" and "anti-Muslim intolerance" is on the rise in the United States and highlights the mushrooming of the so-called "terrorism expert" as a cottage industry with the Arab and Muslim-American communities often in its crosshairs.

While unveiling the ADC study, Lt. Col. Lance Koury of the Alabama National Guard said he had directly witnessed general disrespect involving minorities within the Guard and vocalized prejudice and hatred against Muslims and Arabs.

He said: "I have provided names of corroborative witnesses concerning untoward behavior and discriminatory language used against various minorities and especially Arabs and Muslims. My initial Verbal...complaints to the chain of command within the Alabama National Guard were ignored and dismissed as inconsequential. It was this dismissive attitude that prompted me, beginning in 2007, to make a formal written complaint."

He added that he informed much of the Army hierarchy including: the Adjutant General of the Alabama National Guard, the Honorable Secretary of the Army, and the Chief of National Guard Bureau. In August 2007 he formalized his complaint with a letter addressed to the Army Secretary.

Col Khory said that it was disturbing when these individuals, many of whom fought in Afghanistan and Iraq to assist those countries in their pursuit of freedom, are the same individuals who so willfully express their hatred of Arabs and Muslims. "Their behavior defiles the service of the approximately 4,000 Muslims currently in the military and the tens of thousands of Arab-Americans who have proudly worn the uniform of the U.S. Armed Services. When a senior staff officer is allowed to openly make statements, such as "I hate all Muslims,  their main objective is not to convert Christians, but to kill them," it only reinforces the belief of those bigoted individuals that Muslims and Arab-Americans are second class citizens"

The Arab American population is estimated at about 3.5 million, slightly more than one percent of the US population. Roughly two-thirds of Arab Americans are Christians and one third are Muslims.
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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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