Campaigners call for US census to recognize Arab identity

“We believe it is crucial for our community to be counted fairly and accurately,” says Samer Khalaf, National president of American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. (AADC photo via FaceBook)
Updated 29 July 2019

Campaigners call for US census to recognize Arab identity

  • The 24thcensus will take place in 2020, but offers no ethnic identity for Arabs, who are expected to check the box marked “Other.”

CHICAGO: Arab Americans are renewing efforts for their Arab identity to be recognized in data compiled by the US census.

“The census is important because it determines the allocation of dollars, the political influence, and the representation that we and all Americans are entitled to in the US,” campaigner Anna Mustafa told Arab News. “Arab Americans need, and have, to be counted in the census.”

The US counts its citizens every 10 years, and identifies their interests and national origins. The 24thcensus will take place in 2020, but offers no ethnic identity for Arabs, who are expected to check the box marked “Other.”

There was a push after the 2010 census to create a MENA category representing the Middle East and North Africa, but it failed to win enough support and was rejected in January 2018.


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“We believe it is crucial for our community to be counted fairly and accurately,” said Samer Khalaf, national president of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

“The only way to do that with any certainty is to have a category for our community. We have been fighting for the category for about 30 years and we will continue fighting for it until it is added.

Mustafa said: “What’s holding us back is our community divisions, as well as people in the US government who don’t want us to be recognized or to have power. In 2000, I felt there was support to have a category for Arab Americans. But what happened was that in less than one year that support for the census disappeared.”

 

 


Japan to let off last healthy cruise travelers, isolate rest

Updated 56 min 44 sec ago

Japan to let off last healthy cruise travelers, isolate rest

  • The ship docked at a Yokohama port has the most COVID-19 cases outside of China, with 634 confirmed by late Thursday
  • Six government quarantine workers contracted the virus, raising questions about the protective measures used

TOKYO: Japan’s health minister said the last cruise ship passengers who tested negative for a new virus will leave the Diamond Princess on Friday after a much-criticized quarantine of the vessel ended.

The ship docked at a Yokohama port has the most COVID-19 cases outside of China, with 634 confirmed by late Thursday. Two former passengers have died.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told a news conference the mass disembarkation into Japan of passengers from the ship is set to end Friday, while dozens of foreign passengers are flying back to their home countries on flights chartered by their governments.

Most crew members and other passengers who have not completed their 14-day quarantines because they had more recent contact with infected people are staying on the ship for now, but they will be transported to a government facility to be quarantined in isolation.

Japan is discussing with the ship operator and home countries of foreign crew members over their future movements, he said.

Japan’s government has been questioned over its decision to keep people quarantined on the ship, given the tight quarters and the difficulty of isolating sick people from the healthy.

Six government quarantine workers contracted the virus, raising questions about the protective measures used.

The two fatalities, a man and woman who were both Japanese and in their 80s, were believed to have been infected before health checks and a Feb. 5 quarantine began on the ship, Health Ministry official Masami Sakoi said. It was not immediately known if they had any roommates on the ship.

The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has sickened tens of thousands of people, mostly in central China’s Hubei province.

The US and other countries have put former Diamond Princess passengers in second quarantines.

Australia said two passengers tested positive after they returned home. Kato said Australia, like the US, brought home a mixture of passengers who tested negative and others who were not tested and had an unknown status, therefore it was difficult to know when or how they had contracted the virus.

Kato said passengers who returned home on the US and Australian flights did so before completing the Japanese quarantine process, and that Japan’s ongoing disembarkation of passengers is still adequate.