Year-in-review: 2016
| Thursday, 01.05.2017, 09:58 PM


Conflicts with the Dearborn Police force 

After the Dearborn Police's involvement in two fatal shootings of unarmed African Americans in December 2015 and January 2016, The AANews reported that four newly recruited Arab American officers resigned over an 18 month period, two citing discrimination as the reason for their resignations. Remaining Dearborn officers turned against chief Ron Haddad approximately one month later in a leaked Dearborn Police survey.

Community celebrated passing of $35 million
Crestwood Schools bond 

In May, 51 percent (1,629 votes) of Dearborn Heights residents voted "yes" on a ballot to renovate the Crestwood District schools, overriding the 49 percent (1,542 votes) who voted "no." The $35 million all-inclusive, long-term plan replaces damaged property, future proofs classrooms and advances the quality of education.

Flint water crisis heroes vs. those charged 

Hero Iraqi American doctor Mona Hanna-Attisha was honored numerous times for exposing the Flint water crisis. Throughout the year, community members lead charitable efforts in Flint, helping in their own way. In December, State Attorney General Bill Schuette charged former Emergency Managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, former Public Works Director Howard Croft and former Flint Utilities Director Daugherty Johnson with "willful neglect of duty", "false pretenses" and "misconduct in office."

Dearborn Schools led the way
in accommodating immigrants

The AANews reported on the Dearborn Public School District's growing sensitivity to the cultural and educational needs of Arab students. The district has expanded English programs, gives days off
for Muslim holidays and offers halal food in some schools. The changes didn't happen overnight, but through the efforts and commitment of the residents to the children.

Father of fallen Captain Khan
honored in Dearborn

In October, the father of fallen U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, Khizr Khan, who criticized Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention, was honored at the Arab American Civil Rights League Fight for Justice Gala in Dearborn. He attended the event and spoke after receiving his award.

"Designated Survivor" smeared Dearborn

In the second episode of the ABC series "Designated Survivor", state government officials "rounded up all the Muslims" in Dearborn as a preventive measure to stop terrorism in the wake of an attack on the U.S. Capitol. While the new president opposed the action and had the Michigan governor arrested in a subsequent episode, the series still branded Dearborn as a center for "radical Islam" rather than use a fictional city for story purposes.

Heated local elections 

Gene Hunt won the race to become Dearborn's 19th District Court Judge. Abdullah Hammoud won a seat in the 15th District in the State House of Representatives, becoming the first Arab American Muslim man elected. Nadia Berry became the first Arab American elected to the Crestwood School Board. Dearborn elected Hussein Berry and Fadwa Hammoud Dearborn School Board trustees.

FBI tactics questioned 

The AANews investigated the case of Mohammad Hamdan, a Dearborn resident encouraged by an FBI informant to join Hezbollah, as well as the 2016 case of Khalil Abu-Rayyan of Dearborn Heights, who was seduced and manipulated by an FBI agent trying to radicalize him. The paper questioned the FBI tactics in a special report published in August.

U.S. Attorney brought new charges against Rasmea Odeh

In December, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade announced that an empanelled grand jury brought a new overriding indictment against Rasmea Odeh that alleges she lied about her "association" with the PFLP, which is labeled as a terrorist organization by the U.S., only four weeks before her scheduled retrial in January. Her defense subsequently filed to change the date of the trial, which is now set for May.

Justice Department sued Sterling Heights for rejecting mosque

In December, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Sterling Heights for refusing to allow construction of the American Islamic Community Center, Inc. The lawsuit accuses the city of violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which prohibits religious discrimination.


Bernie Sanders gained surprising momentum

Pegged as the shoe-in as the Democratic presidential nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced unexpected competition from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who won the state of Michigan in March and gained a loyal following from the Arab American community and an endorsement from The AANews. Clinton was still selected as the Democratic nominee, to little enthusiasm.

Hate crime epidemic and hoaxes

2016 marked a year of numerous hate crimes targeting Muslism, Latinos and African Americans across the country, all attributed to the rise of Donald Trump. As the year drew to a close, the epidemic gained skepticism as a series of incidents had been reported as hoaxes by authorities.

Orlando shooting

The largest mass-shooting in the U.S. in more than a decade occurred at a gay night club in Orlando in June. Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old New York-born security guard of Afghani descent, murdered 48 people and injured 53 others. His personal life and ties to extremism became the center of attention.

Police brutality

2016 marked another year of incidents involving police fatally shooting unarmed African Americans, sparking massive protests in cities like Baton Rouge, Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Washington D.C. Many cities have taken measures requiring officers to wear body cameras.

Obama's fallout with Israel

The Obama administration's relationship with Israel has always been shaky, but 2016 marked increasing bitterness. Despite approving a $38 billion military aid package, Obama placed pressure on the U.N. to condemn Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories.

Russians hacked the DNC

Wikileaks garnered massive mainstream attention after it exposed hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee— revealing that the party showed favoritism towards Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Months later, President Obama's administration confirmed that the hacks were orchestrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Muslim registry

Through the run of the president election, Donald Trump flirted with the idea of a "Muslim registry" in an attempt to combat "radical Islam." In his final weeks in office, President Obama dismantled NSEERS, a failed 9/11-era program that monitored suspected terrorists. Furthermore, large tech companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook pledged not to assist Trump in his quest to surveil Muslims.

Climate change

While 2014 and 2015 went in the record books with some of the harshest winter weather conditions, 2016 went in the opposite direction, with higher than normal temperatures plaguing many U.S. cities, droughts impacting the northeast and wildfires affecting the southeast. Hurricane Matthew also impacted the Florida coast, while floods devastated Louisiana.

Fake news epidemic

Fiction blurred with reality with the rise of fake and inaccurate news in 2016. Many pointed the finger at alt-right news agencies such as Breitbart News, while others blamed social media giants such as Facebook for allowing faux information to spread across the Internet.

Donald Trump elected president

Donald Trump was front and center of a rocky election year that included a lack of support from his own party, leaked audio that exposed him speaking about women in a derogatory and offensive fashion and several pending lawsuits, including one against Trump University. Minority and civil rights groups routinely condemned his rhetoric that targeted Muslims, Latinos and African Americans. Still, he shockingly pulled through on Election Day by winning the Electoral College.

Trump's atrocious cabinet

Following his win, Trump ignited anxiety amongst many Americans with his selection of a cabinet that includes a handful of racists and xenophobes, including Michael Flynn, Steven Bannon and Jeff Sessions, all of whom have made off-the-wall remarks about Muslims and other minority groups.


ISIS shook the world

No other group's ploys have dominated global politics like that of the terror group ISIS. It sparked organized military campaigns, garnered fear and claimed countless lives. The extremists began by expanding their control in Iraq and Libya and later proliferating in Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia. Horrors intensified when ISIS-inspired attackers murdered hundreds in Nice, France; Istanbul, Brussels and Berlin. The year's end saw a shooting kill at least 39 in Turkey and more than 60 killed in Baghdad car bombs.

Europe grappled with Middle East crises

Following mass refugee disasters and "Islamic" terrorism stemming from the Arab World, the geographic neighbors gave mixed and heated reactions. On the one hand, France came under fire for banning the "burkini", Norwegian politicians touted banning immigrants and the UK exited the European Union. On the other hand, Germany accepted a large number of refugees and set up excellent resettlement programs.

Famine devastated Yemen

As the result of a brutal proxy-civil war, Yemen has become the poorest nation in the Arab World. More than 10,000 civilians were killed throughout the year from constant Saudi-led air strikes. Taking advantage of an exiled president, the Houthi movement overtook the country. About 28 million Yemenis are said to be malnourished.

Syria clung to life

The Syrian civil war reshaped the Middle East and its relationship with the international community. Sparked by anti-government protests, the country suffered intense combat between rebel and government forces. Various factions were backed by either the U.S., Russia or Iran. Peace talks were always shaky and forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad have since reclaimed Aleppo. However, the city has been reduced to rubble and Syria has undergone one of the worst humanitarian crises and largest exodus in history.

Mosul bled

Despite advances by Iraqi forces, ISIS continues to cling to about 20 percent of Iraq, namely in the city of Mosul. Car bombs and suicide attacks have kept Iraqis on the edge throughout the year, as the world's largest cemetery in the country grew and genocide against Yazidis continued. As the year came to an end, ISIS experienced financial struggles from losing control of oil wells, resorting to selling fish and cars.

The Palestinian strife persisted

Palestinians continued to resist Israeli expansion and human rights abuses. In April, Israel more than tripled demolition of Palestinian homes while the Jewish state proposed 500 new settlements and later approved 289 West Bank housing units. The U.S. and Israel also signed a $38 billion military aid package. The year ended on a bittersweet note, as the U.N. passed a resolution demanding Israel stop settlement expansion.

Turkey in distress after failed coup

After a failed July coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by a military faction, Turks remain divided in the wake of a state of emergency declared by Erdogan. The government shut down media outlets, cracked down on journalists and arrested 50 military officers, businessmen and academics.

A renewed Lebanon

Lebanon's grapple with an environmental disaster as a stalled government caused rivers of garbage bags to overflow the streets captured international attention. A divided country celebrated the election of veteran politician General Michel Aoun as its president, ending a two-year vacuum. Saad Hariri was elected prime minister.

Trump worried world leaders

World leaders expressed anxiety over how Donald Trump will handle a range of issues, including the Middle East and assertive Russia, and whether he will carry out campaign threats. During the election campaign, he voiced admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and questioned central tenets of the NATO military alliance.

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