OUR ARAB AMERICAN STORY…
REVERENCE, RESOURCEFULNESS AND RESPECT
WXYZ-TV7 DECEMBER 2007
Detroit is home to one of the largest, most diverse Arab communities outside the Middle East. Arab Americans living here number nearly 200,000, having begun their immigration more than a century ago.
The blanket term ‘Arab American’ is used to indicate Detroit area immigrants (and their children) from the countries of the Arab League, which includes such a wide diversity of cultures, from Morocco to Qatar, Iraq to Yemen, Lebanon to Egypt, that the highly complex story cannot be downplayed by assuming that all Detroit Arab Americans follow the same customs, keep the same holidays, follow the same religion or even speak the same language.
Like many immigrant nations, the first Arabs arrived to join the Ford assembly lines in Highland Park, and when the automaker moved to Dearborn in 1924, many moved with the company. A number of Palestinian Muslims joined them after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In the 1960s, large numbers of Arabs, including Yemeni Muslims, immigrated here, again at the heels of conflict, including the 1967 Arab-Israeli War . The Lebanese civil war and other Middle East conflicts during the 1970s and 1980s brought still more Arab immigrants to Dearborn, and after the Gulf War, as many as 5,000 Iraqi refugees came to view our city as a place of refuge. Many eventually moved to the north end of Dearborn, which today is bustling with Arab bakeries, clothing stores, restaurants, and professional offices.
‘Our Arabic Story’ will track the predominate Arabic groups in Detroit: Lebanese, Palestinians, Iraqis and Yemenis — and pay special attention to the two major religious communities here, Muslim and Christian.