For Michigan Papers, Middle East Conflict is Local

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By: E&P Staff

With a high concentration of Lebanese-Americans, Detroit and other Michigan cities are experiencing the current conflict in the Middle East as a kind of local issue.

Protests and citizen gatherings have been held throughout the area. Not just Muslim but Christian groups have become involved, as there are many Christians in Lebanon.

The Detroit News reported today: “The growing conflict in the Middle East resonated in Metro Detroit again Friday with Arabs and Muslims calling for an end to Israeli bombardment of Lebanon and Gaza and local Jews and representatives of Israel saying the country is properly defending itself.”

The Detroit Free Press opened an article Saturday morning: “Hundreds of Arab-Americans and Muslims rallied in the streets and mosques of metro Detroit Friday to protest Israeli attacks and call upon the U.S. government to help American citizens trapped in Lebanon. And they planned for more local protests in upcoming days.

“In pouring rain, an estimated 500 protestors lined Warren Avenue — the heart of east Dearborn’s commercial district — to demonstrate against Israel’s push into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Stop Israeli Terrorism read one large banner held up by about 20 men, who gathered with others on Warren, near Schaefer road. Many waved Lebanese flags as drivers riding by honked their horns.”

On Friday, the Free Press had reported: “In Dearborn, 26-year-old resident Fatme Youssef mourned the loss of her mother, grandmother, two brothers and other family members — killed, according to relatives in Dearborn, after Israeli warplanes struck the family’s home Thursday morning in southern Lebanon. ‘They’re killing kids; they’re killing ladies; they’re killing innocent people … not terrorists,’ said her husband’s uncle, Abbas Youssef, also of Dearborn.

“In metro Detroit’s Jewish community, however, the fighting was defended as necessary to protect Israel from Hizballah, a group described by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization that has killed hundreds of Americans.”

The Press & Guide, a twice weekly paper in Dearborn, reported Saturday: “With violence in Lebanon escalating this week, Lebanese-Americans in the Metro Detroit area have become understandably concerned about family and friends overseas.

“The Israeli attacks on Lebanon during the busiest tourism season of the year have lead Muslim groups in and around Dearborn to call press conferences and demonstrations to address the violence in the region and its effects on the local community. ‘Our concern is not only based upon the increasing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the deaths of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. Our concern also resides with the thousands of American citizens ? (with) a large portion of them being Metro Detroit residents ? that are in the region on vacation whose lives are in jeopardy as we speak,’ said Dawud Walid, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR), at a Friday press conference in Dearborn Heights….

“As of the Press & Guide’s deadline Friday, the Associated Press reported that 61 Lebanese civilians and 10 Israelis had been killed in three days. Israel began attacking Lebanon Wednesday in response to two Israeli soldiers being captured by Hezbollah guerrillas. In response to the Israeli attacks, Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets and mortars into northern Israel.”

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