AMERICAN JAILED IN DUBAI OVER YOUTUBE VIDEO American Shezanne Cassim and four other men were sentenced to one year in prison in the United Arab Emirates for producing an online video on Youtube that satirized teenagers in Dubai. The youtube video is called “Satwa Comedy School.” Click here to view the online video. Cassim and the other defendants have been jailed since April awaiting trial which concluded this week with their conviction and fines of up to $3,000 or more. Comedians around the world have spoken out against the UAE Law. The 19-minute video parodiesDubai teens who embrace hip-hop culture. The term “Satwa G” was coined in the 1990s to describe teenagers and young people known to talk tougher than they really are. …
CALIFORNIA ARAB DEMOCRATS CELEBRATE LEADERSHIP The Arab American Democrats of California had its third annual holiday party December 3 to celebrate the group’s accomplishments in public office this year, and to review areas where members could improve their impact as the 2014 election season approaches. About 40 people attended.
ANN ARBOR STUDENTS SHOCKED WITH EVICTION NOTICE members of the BDS Movement in Ann Arbor stirred shock when they distributed 1,500 mock eviction notices to students on campus, saying their homes would be demolished without delay. The mock eviction notice warned: “If you do not vacate the premises by 13 DECEMBER 6 PM, we reserve the right to demolish your premises without delay. We cannot be held responsible for property or persons remaining inside. Charges for demolition will be applied to your student account.” The stunt was sponsored by the members of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) whose members support the BDS campaign (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) which targets Israel’s occupation and oppression against Palestinians. Israel frequently expels Palestinian homeowners and destroys their homes as a part of their campaign to reduce the non-Jewish population in the occupied territories in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
TOP ARAB AMERICAN EVENTS OF 2013 In the category of Top Stories of 2013, several captured the attention of Americans Arabs. The death of award winning White House Journalist Helen Thomas is seen as one of the top events of 2013 impacting the American Arab community. Thomas covered every American President from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama. She was viciously slandered in 2010 after a video blogger ambushed her and twisted her words critical of Israel to make them appear anti-Semitic. The anti-Arab mainstream American newspaper, and the viciously anti-Arab Society of Professional Journalists, attacked Thomas and other American Arabs who defended her, shutting down the Arab American Journalism Section of the SPJ. Thomas was 92 when she passed away on July 20, 2013. … The second of the top stories of 2013 is the assault against ADC by a cabal of extremist activists who have falsely charged that the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is insensitive to the rights of women. Michigan Director Imad Hamad was forced out of his job, and ADC President Warren David was forced to resign after some board members alleged he failed to properly represent ADC’s interests in the Hamad controversy. David was replaced by attorney Samer Khalaf. Hamad was replaced by Attorney Fatina Abdrabboh. Hamad had been re-accused of having sexually harassed women interns at ADC Michigan more than four years ago. The chief protagonist, State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, asserted she had been sexually harassed 15 years before. Many accused the critics of engaging in a political campaign to undermine ADC because of the groups more liberal policies on Syria and Israel. The Annual ADC Michigan Banquet Dec. 13, was also cancelled at the last minute in the face of protests from a handful of extremists, ADC officials said.
ANOTHER OF THE TOP STORIES FOR 2013 involved American Jennifer Grout, 23, of Massachusetts, grabbed worldwide attention when she became a finalist in the popular Middle East reality competition “Arabs Got Talent.” Grout couldn’t converse in Arabic but was able to perform several popular and traditional Arabic songs with near perfection, including by singer Umm Kulthoum. … Farouk Shami, a Palestinian-American businessman and founder of the hair-care and spa products company, Farouk Systems, published his book “American by Choice.” He currently resides in Houston, Texas, where his company is based. … Greater Detroit region Attorney Susan Dabaja became the first Arab and Muslim American to be elected Dearborn City Council president. A total of four Arab Americans were elected to serve as Council members, giving American Arabs their first ever control of a municipality. … The Annual Arab International Festival was cancelled this year, held every summer.
ANOTHER OF THE TOP STORIES FOR 2013 involved the launch of AlJazeera America (AJAM) on American Cable TV. Aljazeera, the Qatar-based Arab Satellite News Channel has been fighting for more than decade to be allowed to broadcast to Americans, but only began broadcasting 24 hours day on August 20, 2013 after purchasing Currents TV from former Vice President Al Gore. The majority of its news reports are hosted by veteran American journalists.
AMERICAN ARABS DENOUNCED A SuperBowl Advertisement from Coca Cola entitled “Mirage.” American viewers on Youtube were asked to vote for the “winner” in a race through the desert. The Ad shows an Arab walking through a desert and he soon sees Cowboys, Las Vegas showgirls and a Motley Crew of people based on the apocalyptic “Mad Max” film who all race past him to reach a gigantic bottle of Coke. In the ad, Coke asks viewers to vote online on which characters should win the race to the refreshing Coca Cola bottle. The online site did not allow a vote for the Arab character. More than 100 million Americans viewed the commercial during the Super Bowl football Game on Feb. 3, 2013. Abed Ayoub, director of legal and policy affairs for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said the commercial could harm Coke’s business with the Arab community. “Coke should understand and respect their consumers and have a better understanding of the market they are sharing,” he said.
Send us your top 2013 American Arab stories to The Arab Daily News Editor.