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Biden Sends ‘Warmest Greetings’ to Arabs in the United States as Arab American Heritage Month Begins

CHICAGO (Reuters) – President Joe Biden sent his “warmest greetings” to the Arab community in the United States on Friday to mark the start of Arab-American Heritage Month. The annual celebration highlights Arab culture, heritage and experiences, as well as the contributions the community has made to the development of the nation.

It provides an opportunity to present a positive image of Arab culture and society to the general American public, which is more accustomed to negative portrayals of Arabs in the entertainment industry and mainstream news media.

“I send my warmest regards to everyone in the United States celebrating National Arab-American Heritage Month,” Biden wrote in a letter from the White House dated April 1.

“The history of the Arab-American community dates back to the earliest days of the founding of our country, and their history is deeply woven into the diverse tapestry of America. For centuries. Arab Americans have agreed to work hard , to give back and cultivate friendship and community – helping to shape our nation’s history and build our future.

“Today, we see the contributions of Arab Americans reflected in every aspect of American life. From advancing innovation, leading businesses, serving in our armed forces, teaching in our schools, and representing communities in elected office, Arab Americans make us stronger and help us shape a more diverse and vibrant America.

Biden also acknowledged the challenges and discrimination that Arabs continue to face in the United States.

“We also recognize that too many Arab Americans continue to be harmed by discrimination, prejudice, and violence,” he wrote. “As president, I have made it a top priority to strengthen the federal government’s response to hate crimes and advance a whole-of-government approach to racial justice and equity so that all Americans, including Arabs Americans, can realize their full potential.

“I am grateful for the tireless work of organizations that promote Arab American heritage and empower Arab Americans across our country. Today and every day, we must continue to celebrate our nation’s diversity and ensure that the fundamental promises of freedom, equality and opportunity are within reach for all of us, no matter who we are or from. where we come from.

“On this National Arab-American Heritage Month, I thank the Arab-American community for all you have done to help us move forward and to represent the best of who we are.

Samer Khalaf, chairman of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, praised Biden for publicly acknowledging the annual celebration of Arabs and their culture. Similar celebrations are held every year in honor of the country’s other ethnic and national groups, including African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans.

“We commend President Biden’s message and the administration’s continued work with CDA and the community to advance community interests,” Khalaf said. “We look forward to celebrating our rich culture and heritage, and highlighting the rich history and accomplishments of Arab Americans.

“We invite you to attend our events and be on the lookout for all the different productions that celebrate Arab-American heritage around our community. It’s a time to learn more about our history, celebrate our heritage, showcase our contributions, and find ways to keep our community moving forward. Happy Arab American Heritage Month.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also issued a statement to “honor the contributions of this diverse community” to America.

“Immigrants from the Arab world arrived in the United States before our country’s independence and have contributed to our country’s progress in science, business, technology, foreign policy, and security. national,” he said. “The litany is long and includes Private Nathan Badeen, a Syrian immigrant who fought and gave his life during the American Revolution.

“At the State Department, we recognize terrific diplomats such as Ambassador Philip Habib, former Undersecretary for Political Affairs, who played a leading role in the Vietnam peace talks that culminated in the Peace Accords. Paris peace of 1973, and then succeeded in obtaining a ceasefire in Lebanon.

“We also recognize Ambassador Selwa ‘Lucky’ Roosevelt, who served the President and Secretary of State as Chief of Protocol of the United States from 1982 to 1989; almost seven years and more than anyone before.

“The Department is fortunate to have had these talented Arab-American colleagues and so many others, who strive every day to protect and promote the interests and values ​​of the American people, while representing the United States in the world,” Blinken added.

Until 2018, Arab American Heritage Month was celebrated in the United States in a number of states at different times of the year; Arizona celebrated in April, for example, and Illinois in November. Four years ago, recognition of the ethnic heritage of Arab Americans, who began arriving in America in the early 18th century, was solidified nationwide and April was set as the month of celebration.

Cities across the country are hosting special events this month to showcase the contributions of Arab Americans to small and large business, medicine and health care, law, engineering, journalism, education and to civil rights.

Chicago has previously hosted a celebration, March 30, attended by more than 250 Arab-American community leaders in the state and more than 40 elected officials, who feasted on Middle Eastern cuisine, enjoyed entertainment Arabs and engaged in cultural discussions on a number of topics, including the importance of dates in the observance of many Islamic holidays and religious holidays.

“Each year, we see more and more of our government’s elected officials and community leaders join us in celebrating Arab-American Heritage Month,” said Hassan Nijem, president of the Arab-American Chamber of Commerce.

“Arab American Heritage Month reinforces in the minds of everyone in the country the strong and positive role of our community of Christians and Muslims, and it is effective in countering the many false and negative stereotypes often conveyed by the media and the film industries.

Authorities in Chicago held the Heritage Month Celebration Dinner in late March rather than April as a sign of respect for Arab-American Muslims who will be fasting during Ramadan, which this year coincides with Heritage Month.

Officials in more than 36 US states have issued proclamations honoring Arab Americans. Illinois is the only state, however, to officially codify April as Arab-American Heritage Month, in legislation passed by the state legislature in January 2019.

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