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.”

 

 


New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern calls September election

Updated 19 min 10 sec ago

New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern calls September election

  • The center-left leader on Tuesday announced Kiwis would go to the polls on September 19
  • The New Zealand economy has struggled under low growth, while the cost of living has risen
WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called a general election for September, in a vote that will test whether her widespread popularity overseas is matched by support at home.

The center-left leader on Tuesday announced Kiwis would go to the polls on September 19, two months ahead of the last possible date for the ballot, when she will seek a second three-year term.

“I will be asking New Zealanders to continue to support my leadership and the current direction of the government, which is grounded in stability, a strong economy and progress on the long term challenges facing New Zealand,” Ardern said.

The 39-year-old’s first term won her international fame — she became a mother while in office and received praise for her sensitive handling of the Christchurch mosques killings and the White Island volcano tragedy.

But while she has been feted overseas, opinion polls show her standing at home has slipped.

Opposition leader Simon Bridges has led the center-right National party into more populist territory, attacking Ardern over a land dispute with Maori groups and attacking her gun buy-back scheme introduced after Christchurch.

Ardern has also come under fire for her party’s long-running KiwiBuild scheme, which was designed to make owning a home more affordable by constructing 100,000 homes, but has so far failed to match expectations.

Bridges reacted to the election announcement by pledging to lead a government that “will deliver” on its promises

“New Zealanders know we will get things done, whether it’s more money in your pocket, a stronger economy, less tax, building infrastructure and roads or keeping families safer from increasing gang violence,” he said.

The most recently published opinion polls, both produced late last year, showed Bridge’s National Party ahead but Labour, with its New Zealand First and Green Party allies could muster enough support to remain in power.

The election announcement comes just days before the government is to announce details of a NZ $12 billion ($7.85 billion) infrastructure spending package designed to stimulate the economy.

The New Zealand economy has struggled under low growth, while the cost of living has risen.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the infrastructure spend to be released this week will target roads, rail, schools and health care projects across the country.

ANZ Bank’s latest economic outlook said this would add to an “improved domestic outlook” and it expected the central bank to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.0 percent for the foreseeable future.

The poll date avoids school holidays and All Blacks matches, which are said to have a bearing on election outcomes.