It is with respect and excitement that The Arab American News welcomes the Asian American Journalists Association to Detroit for their annual convention this week. We welcome as well the more than 500 national and international journalists who are coming to experience the convention and to see for themselves what is going on in the heart of Arab America. This is an unprecedented opportunity for our community to showcase its commitment to our country and to the values of family, religion, economic prosperity and social justice. The takeaway for all will be the knowledge that Arab Americans and American Muslims are family-oriented, law-abiding, productive residents of America not only philosophically opposed to violence and upheaval but far too invested in their pursuits of happiness to have anything to do with terrorism.
We want everyone to realize and appreciate too the unique contributions this community makes to our state. Arab Americans contribute close to $8 billion to the state economy, according to a 2006 study by Wayne State University. That number can only have increased in the interim. We have the ability to facilitate trade with the Arab World and to contribute mightily to better understanding between cultures and faiths. When you glimpse the Ambassador Bridge to Canada from downtown Detroit, know that it is owned by an Arab American. If you get to see Eastern Market while you are here, know that an Arab American is largely responsible for its continued existence. When you read about The Palace, an entertainment venue home to the Detroit Pistons, know that an Arab American recently purchased both. We are part and parcel of the "D." Two weeks ago, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder strongly affirmed his belief in the power of immigration to help transform Michigan's economy.
We also know only too well that "an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." We have not forgotten Vincent Chin or the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Indeed we cite them regularly in our attempts to warn of the same fate for Arab Americans and American Muslims. Islamophobia and anti-immigration sentiment are rampant in America, and they threaten all of us. Our own community has many members who suffer daily and make the ultimate sacrifice simply for having come from a certain region of the world, looking a certain way or peacefully practicing a certain religion.
Thus we express also great appreciation to the AAJA for having chosen Detroit and Dearborn, having embraced the Arab American community as an important part of its convention, and having joined hands with us in the ongoing, often uphill, battle for equal protection under the law and the same rights to pursuit of happiness and the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution as all other Americans have.
Welcome to the D!