Decision to list Arab Americans as ‘minority’ postponed


The decision to enlist members of the Arab American business community as socially or economically disadvantaged has been postponed by a business development agency hearing the case.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest grassroots civil rights organizations in the United States for Arab Americans, was expecting the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to make a final verdict on whether Arab American business people can be categorized as a minority on Wednesday, but the decision was postponed.

“The date has been moved up 30 days to late July,” said Abed Ayoub, Legislative Director of ADC, in an email to Al Arabiya.

Groups that are eligible for MBDA services included Hasidic Jews, Asian Pacific Americans and Asian Indians who have eligible for assistance from the MBDA.

If ADC’s petition passes through, more grants and funding will be funneled to the Arab American business community.

There will also be more contracts for the community that can be applied on the federal, local and state levels, Fay Beydoun, Executive Director of Arab American Chamber of Commerce, told Al Arabiya.

“It is a great move, we hope [the petition] goes through,” she said. “It will give more support to Arab Americans.”


Ayoub said that discrimination in the workplace can halt deserved promotions to people of Arab descent in the U.S. and cited examples of how Arab doctors, lawyers can lose patients and clients, warning that discrimination has led Arab Americans to pursue their business in more Arab-concentrated areas such as Michigan, leading to the “Ghettoization of the Arab community.”

ADC’s petition is full of details and descriptions on how the Arab community is as a distinct one whether in their skin color, food habits and music, and how the group has had faced discrimination ever since their migration to the U.S. in the 19th century.

“Arab Americans have suffered long-term, chronic discrimination and prejudice in American society,” states the petition.

It brought up a case by Dr. H. el-Kouri, a Syrian physician in Birmingham, who defended Arabs against derogatory public comments made by congressman John L Burnet in 1907.

Burnett said that Arabs were “dirty and diseased.”

The petition also referred to derogatory terms such as “Dago” and “Sheeny” used against early Arab immigrants, and how they were prohibited from eating in public or having haircuts in American saloons.

It also described heightened discrimination post September 11, and how Arabs “continue to suffer from discrimination and effects of discrimination and prejudice over which they have no control.”