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.”

 

 


UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

Updated 23 September 2020

UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

  • The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling
  • The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq

LONDON: Relatives of two Britons killed by a Daesh cell on Wednesday welcomed a breakthrough that advances the US trial of two Londoners accused of their brutal deaths.
The families of Alan Henning and David Haines said a ruling by the London High Court permitting the UK government to share evidence with US authorities about the suspects was a “huge result for us.”
“We have only ever wanted to see these two men being held accountable and brought to justice through a fair trial for their alleged actions,” they said in a statement released by the charity Hostage International.
The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling.
The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq.
Kotey and Elsheikh’s four-member cell was dubbed “the Beatles” by their captives due to their English accents. They are accused of torturing and killing victims, including by beheading, and Daesh released videos of the deaths for propaganda purposes.
A two-year legal impasse concerning the suspects was broken last month when Attorney General Bill Barr said they would be spared execution if convicted after trial in the United States.
The United States wants to try them for the murder of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig, during 2014-2015.
Taxi driver Henning and former aircraft engineer Haines, who had both gone to Syria to do aid work, were beheaded in 2014.
Another of the cell’s alleged victims was British photojournalist John Cantlie, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and remains missing.
Cantlie’s sister Jessica Pocock told of the relatives’ intense frustration at the long legal wait.
“At times we felt absolutely desperate as to whether the legal system was ever going to be able to bring these two to justice — wherever they may be,” she told BBC radio.
“That was always terribly important to us to have a proper, fair trial. The families need nothing less than a fair trial,” she said.
The US Department of Justice welcomed the court ruling and expressed gratitude to Britain for transferring the evidence, although a trial date has yet to be set.