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SE Michigan News

CAIR Press Conference Shows the Oppression of the Lebanese

Dearborn Heights–July 14–A press conference this Friday morning illuminated the intense oppression which the Lebanese people now sufer under under the Israeli bombing campaign.

Imam Abdullah El-Amin of the Detroit Muslim Unity Center spoke, as did Imam Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, Imam Dawud Walid of CAIR Michigan and Hamzeh Makki and Dr. Mohamad Bazzi, representatives of the congregation of the Islamic House of Wisdom who have family members in Lebanon with direct experience of the bombing campaign.

The speakers all expressed outrage with what they called the terrible injustice of collective punishment and disproportionate punishment meted out by Israel against the people of Lebanon and Palestine, and all called for the bombing to come to an end.

Not all of the speakers broached the subject of Hezbollah’s engaging of Israeli troops despite the simmering peace between the nations. Several, however, did, saying that Hezbollah is not a “terrorist” organization but rather freedom fighters in the same way that the American founding fathers were freedom fighters. This argument, of course, fell on deaf ears–mainstream Americans have been conditioned to believe that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, and no amount of argument can change that–this perhaps was the spark that led to the heated exchange between the speakers and the mainstream journalists who were present.

Present were members of the mainstream news media, including Channel 4 News and The Detroit News, as well as the Arab American News and The Muslim Observer. The mainstream news media was unsurprisingly uninformed regarding the past situation in Lebanon and the continued occupation by Israel of some Lebanese land, asking for more details regarding these facts. What was surprising was the degree of hostility evidenced by Channel 4’s representative throwing down his notebook in disgust as he heard the collected imams and community representatives lambasting Israel’s wanton attacks, despite their provocations.

Local Lebanese Family Loses 12 family-members to Israeli missiles.
Dearborn–July 17–local Dearborn resident Malek Youssef explained his intense feelings of bereavement to The Muslim Observer this Monday, following his loss of almost everyone from his wife’s family in Lebanon this past weekend.

Mr. Youssef’s wife’s family is in Zebkein, southern Lebanon, about 10 miles from the Israeli border. Wednesday night, as the Israeli bombardment began in response to Hezbollah’s taking two of its soldiers hostage and killing of several others, the extended family, comprising about 16 people, took refuge in a single house. Early Thursday morning, at about 2 a.m., Israel hit the house with two missiles, killing 12 of the family members in only a few minutes.

The Youssef family heard the news at about 6:30 Thursday morning.

The age range of those killed was from 7 up to 80 years old, covering three generations of his wife’s family. One of only four survivors was her father, who escaped with some injuries.

As of Monday, despite the dictates of Islamic law, the family of children and old people still remained unburied because it is impossible for others to emerge from shelter even for such necessary work, during the intense Israeli bombardment.

Mrs. Youssef is despondent now, unable to speak, unresponsive and withdrawn, coping with the immense burden of the loss of almost her entire family. Her children are not eating normally.

Mr. Youssef is contacting the remaining members of his wife’s family desperately, every 30 minutes or every hour, by phone. Sometimes the phones work, sometimes they don’t. The people he talks to in Lebanon grasp desperately for grains of knowledge from him–being trapped in their houses without electricity or access (other than by phone) to the outside world, he is in fact their lifeline, providing them of news that they cannot, as they wish, escape to Beirut because it also is under intense bombardment.

The Israelis, says Mr. Youssef, are telling all of the people to leave their homes, but in fact they are bombing people on the roads when they become visible. They are killing entire busloads of civilians at a time. In fact it must have been clear to them that the Zebkein home of Mr. Youssef’s inlaws was housing a dozen people (very old and very young) that must have been difficult to confuse with Hezbollah members.

The Israelis, says Mr. Youssef, are hitting everything in addition to refugees, including gas stations and grocery stores, adding to the plight of the afflicted Lebanese people deprived of electricity.

Therefore, Mr. Youssef is telling his father-in-law to stay indoors and not to obey the Israeli injunctions to leave his home.

“Over 200 civilians have been killed since Thursday,” he says, “all of them are civilians. There are pictures of kids cut in half–it is very difficult. People are still under rubble, we cannot bury them.”

The bombing campaign, he says, is having no effect on Hezbollah, but a drastic impact on the Lebanese people. As evidence, he offers the fact that Hezbollah continues, despite days of frantic and heavy bombardment by Israeli warplanes, to send rockets into northern Israel.

Mr. Youssef explains that Israel has, since its “withdrawal” from Lebanon, continued to occupy a few villages in the extreme south, and has maintained thousands of prisoners, at least 1,000 of them without charges. He said that in fact the ones who suffer from this terrible political situation are the small people like his family, who have no stake in the outcome other than their lives and well-being. The politicians who can solve this problem could do so in only five minutes, and will in fact do so in a few days, after perhaps many more hundreds of people are killed–but they will not have to undergo the terrible aftermath that his family is only now beginning to cope with.

Concert of Colors Graces Detroit

Detroit–July 14-16–Once again, Detroit was home to the Concert of Colors in the Max M Fisher Concert hall in downtown Detroit.

The purpose of the concert of colors is to celebrate diversity and to provide entertainment to people.

The concert of colors was, as usual, free, providing hot-ticket entertainment groups including the celebrity-A-list Indigo Girls, as well as lesser-known but still excellent performers from the local area and other performers from farther afield but who had a specific ethnic appeal, like Latino, Algerian, and Caribbean steel-drum performers.

Several important local Arab-American organizations maintained booths and sponsorships of the vent, including the Arab American National Museum and ACCESS. They thus contributed to the event’s celebration of diversity.

The event began with a fanfare on Friday, with a parade and a celebration of WDET personality Georges Collinet. Famous performers performed, and dancers, drummers and marchers in colorful garb celebrating diverse ethnicities all marched together to Orchestra Hall.

The famous bands which performed for the event included, among others far too numerous to mention, NoJazz, the Indigo Girls, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Detroit Symphony, and the Stonefish Family Hoop Dancers, the Ottawa/Chippewa Hoop Dance Champions.


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