(DETROIT) — Syrian singer Rouwaida Attieh on Tuesday honored Lebanese musical legend Sabah during a tribute concert in Dearborn, Michigan, the home of the largest Arab American population in the United States.
The Lebanese American Heritage Club hosted the international songstress for a concert titled, “Sabah, The Musical Dream.”
Attieh traveled to Paris last March to perform at the famous Le Trianon Theater, where she presented a collection of Sabah’s most popular songs.
Sabah was once quoted at the Beiteddine Festival in Lebanon saying she considered Attieh the best person to have performed her songs.
Attieh was presented with a special tribute from State Senator David Knezek and recognition awards from Dearborn City Council President Susan Dabaja and Council Member Mike Sarieni.
LAHC Executive Director Wassim Mahfouz also thanked Attieh for headlining the concert.
Attieh was the first runner-up on the first season of Super Star, the pan-Arab import of “Pop Idol,” where she quickly rose to fame. She has worked with several Arab musical giants, including Lebanese composer Imad Shamseddine and Lebanese legend Wadih El Safi, among others.
Sabah, one of the leading Arab performers of her generation, died at the age of 87 last November. She was said to recorded over 3,500 songs in her lifetime.
VIDEO: Singer Rouwaida Attieh pays tribute to the Lebanese musical legend Sabah at a concert hosted by the Lebanese American Heritage Club in Dearborn, Michigan.
(DETROIT) — Lebanese Forces MP Shant Chinchinian on Saturday called for immediate presidential elections in Lebanon during keynote remarks at the Lebanese Forces Michigan Chapter twentieth annual banquet in Detroit.
Chinchinian, who is visiting the United States for his second time, said the political situation in Lebanon would improve if a president is elected. He believes protest groups in Beirut should set fixed demands that urge leaders to stop boycotting presidential sessions.
“Our candidate is still Dr. Samir Geagea,” Chinchinian told Lebanese Examiner during an exclusive interview. “But we are open to discussion later on; we are not set on (Geagea) as an obstacle that makes him president, or nobody else.”
The Lebanese Forces banquet drew about 250 people, mostly supporters of the March 14 Alliance, which is largely comprised of leaders from the Future Movement, Lebanese Forces, and Kataeb Party.
Christian Nasr, secretary general of the Lebanese Forces in North America, also traveled to Detroit for the banquet, which was held at the hall of Life Application Ministries Church – the former location of St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church.
Chinchinian appeared on Sunday in Sterling Heights at Bemis Junior High School, the temporary location of St. Sharbel Church, for a mass to “honor and remember Lebanese Forces martyrs.”
Chinchinian, who is from Zahle, is a graduate of the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom, where he studied international policy and security, according to his CV.
Zahle is home to one of the largest populations of Syrian refugees in the world — an issue that Chinchinian said requires international intervention.
“For a small country like Lebanon, it was very difficult to receive this number of refugees,” he said. “(The Lebanese Forces) demanded that refugee camps should be set up within Syria.”
Chinchinian said during the Lebanese Civil War, only a small percentage of Lebanese citizens became refugees. He believes “internal displacement” is a better solution.
“I think the best solution for everybody is to prepare safe zones within Syria, non-military zones, that could house the refugees,” he added.
These concerns add a “burden” on the Lebanese economy and make electricity, water, and waste removal even more difficult, he believes. The matter of garbage has prompted historic protests in Beirut over corruption and political dysfunction.
Secular protest groups have prompted international attention and increased public anger over the garbage crisis — concerns that Chinchinian said are “rightful.”
“The protests started with rightful demands,” Chinchinian said. “Almost all the Lebanese agree with these demands — from electricity, to water, and mainly the garbage situation that is unbearable.”
However, he added that protesters should remain peaceful and defy violence committed by hostile crowds. Protesters argue that police brutality, not the protest groups, has naturally led to escalated violence.
“It’s easy to regret something and to put the blame on somebody else,” he said. “It’s in the duty of the groups that are demonstrating to control the demonstration and to have clear and limited goals.”
Chinchinian added that he met with the environmental parliamentary committee in Lebanon prior to his trip to Detroit. He believes the plan proposed under the direction of Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayeb is viable.
The plan – announced after six hours of deliberation between the Lebanese cabinet – aims to decentralize waste management by giving municipalities the responsibility.
“This is the only plan; there are no other solutions,” he said. “I think the municipalities will accept it in the end.”
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(DEARBORN, MI) — The Bint Jebail Cultural Center in Dearborn, Mich. was vandalized with graffiti recently, amid an ongoing controversy involving Imam Hassan Qazwini, who resigned from the Islamic Center of America in January.
“The Qazwini and Iraq Club,” the graffiti read in Arabic. Other statements attacking the center’s founder, Mohammed Turfe, were sprayed on doors and walls.
Qazwini has been hosting Ramadan prayer services at the Bint Jbeil Center, which prompted an anonymous letter attacking the center’s founder.
“We hold Mohammed Turfe fully responsible for the unprecedented act of hosting Qazwini, and we ask him to ban Qazwini from the center to save the community from controversy and divisions,” the letter said.
Qazwini is an Iraqi-American, while most board members are Lebanese-American. Qazwini says his opponents are targeting him because of his national origin.
In January, Qazwini was the target of anonymous letters that accused him of corruption and adultery, including diverting mosque money for his father’s projects in Iraq.
He strongly denied all allegations, except admitting that he sent some money to his father’s charitable orphanage in Iraq.
Qazwini, who was born in Iraq, says he was the victim of racism by Lebanese board members, who wanted to fund projects in Lebanon, according to the Detroit Free Press.
A group of volunteers have since cleaned off the graffiti. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Dearborn Police at 313-943-3012.
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(DETROIT, MI) — Lebanese-American Fox News contributor Walid Phares was awarded the ‘Pillar of Baalbeck’ award on May 29 by the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce during its Spring Hafli Grande Banquet at Pi Banquet Hall in Southfield, Mich.
Phares has been a regular guest on Fox News since 2007 as a analyst on terrorism and Middle East policy. He has also testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, European Parliament, and the United Nations Security Council.
300 guests attended the banquet, which also honored singer Odette Kaddo, who died in 1997, according to the Chamber.
“The importance of understanding our history is essential in order to shape our future as it is well documented that Lebanese Americans are teeming with extraordinary potential,” said John Akouri, president of the Chamber.
Notable guests included members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Chicago-based hair transplant surgeon Dr. William Yates, The Bachelorette television star Nick Sutter, FBI Detroit Special Agent-in-Charge Paul Abbate, Consul of Mexico in Detroit Juan Manuel Solana Morales, and member delegations from the United Cedars Foundation, Jordanian American Association, and Future Movement of Michigan.
The event also hosted Lebanese-American author Maureen Abood, who signed copies of her newly-released cookbook, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, which reveals recipes of her family’s Lebanese favorites.
Fox 2 News anchor Roop Raj served as Master of Ceremonies.
Akouri thanked the Chamber’s sponsors and members for supporting the event and “paving the way” for the next generation of Lebanese-Americans. He also introduced Kamal Shouhayib and Fadi Sankari, who are looking to raise $3 million to install water filtration systems in 1,200 Lebanese schools over the next three years.
The Chamber has previously hosted many other newsmakers, including MSNBC personality Raghida Dergham, CNN personality Octavia Nasr, filmmaker Nadine Labaki, Central Bank of Lebanon vice governor Raed Charafeddine, and Beirut Marathon Association founder May El Khalil.
(DETROIT, MI) — Federal prosecutors are calling Michigan Lebanese cancer doctor Farid Fata one of the most fraudulent physicians in American history for allegedly misdiagnosing patients with cancer to bill their insurance companies.
The U.S. government says 553 patients were put through unnecessary treatments by Fata, who has pleaded guilty to fraud. This is the first time prosecutors assigned a specific number to the case.
In a sentencing memorandum from May 28, the U.S. Attorney’s office says Fata “is the most egregious fraudster in the history of the country, measured not only by the millions of dollars he stole but by the harm he inflicted on his victims, over 550 identified so far.”
Prosecutors are asking for life in prison — up to a maximum 175 years. Fata’s six cancer centers were closed in August of 2013.
“Rather than healing or easing the suffering of the cancer patients and other who sought his help, Fata administered thousands of unnecessary treatments — a variety of chemical infusions and injections, all with potentially harmful and even deadly side effects —to the patients who entrusted him with their care. He did it entirely for his own benefit,” prosecutors wrote.
Sources say his wife and children left the country and are currently living in Lebanon. His wife was the CFO of Fata’s medical company, but her name is not mentioned in the case.
Fata was reportedly looking at luxury investment opportunities along the Jounieh coastal area in Lebanon in 2010, according to released email exchanges between Fata and his financial advisor.
“I need a favor from you,” Fata wrote in one exchange. “My dad has a great deal on a castle all furnished in Adma/Lebanon!”
The castle was $3,000,000, according to email records. It is unclear whether he ever purchased the property, but investigators believe the alleged emails could trace to more information about his “numerous trusts.”
Prosecutors said Fata, who pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud, told “thousands upon thousands of lies” to “cajole, frighten, and deceive his patients.”
His case was also compared to that of notorious Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, but prosecutors said Fata’s crimes were worse, due to the “scope, duration, and enormity of the fraud.”
Fata’s sentencing hearing will take place before U.S. Judge Paul Borman on July 6. The hearing is expected to last more than a week.
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(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — The Armenian-Lebanese community in the United States welcomed His Holiness Aram I Keshishian, the leader of the Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church during an official visit this month.
The religious leader’s month-long visit includes meetings with American diplomats and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and a keynote address to the Armenian Eastern Prelacy’s National Representative Assembly on June 7.
Keshishian, who resides in Antelias, Lebanon, had planned a visit to the United States on October 2012 but canceled because of the conflict in Syria that impacted the Syrian-Armenian community.
His stay in the United States will include stops at several Prelacy parishes, where services will focus on the theme “Faithfulness to Our Armenian Christian Heritage,’’ according to a statement released by the Armenian Prelacy.
“In order to remain rooted in our Armenian identity in the diaspora, we should organize and be renewed as community in the church,” the religious leader said.
Keshishian visited the Lebanese Embassy in Washington D.C. on May 11 to meet with Ambassador Antoine Chedid. They discussed the ongoing political and security situation in Lebanon and the threats Christians face in the Middle East.
Keshishian also met with In Defense of Christians Coalition President Toufic Baakline, and Senior Advisor Andrew Dorani. The Catholicos thanked the coalition for their advocacy on behalf of Christians in the Middle East and for their recent statement on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
Before Keshishian returns to Lebanon in June, he will visit churches in Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
It is his fourth visit to the Eastern Prelacy — the first one was in 1997.
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(DEARBORN, MI) — It’s no secret that Dearborn-based businessman Ali Jawad likes to stay active. Even during Ramadan, the hands-on and self-made entrepreneur jogs for six miles per day.
In between exercises and frequent soccer matches, Jawad manages Armada Oil, one of Michigan’s largest motor fuel distributors which he founded in 1982. But he rarely speaks of his financial and professional success.
Jawad would rather talk about his philanthropic success and ambitious vision to create a gathering place for Lebanese-Americans in Dearborn, Mich., which is home to the largest concentrated Arab population outside of the Middle East.
But admittedly, philanthropic success didn’t come easy.
As Jawad describes, mobilizing the Lebanese community often presented more challenges than operating a major business.
“On many occasions we told the community that if you lose your heritage, you lose your identity,” he said. “We had many challenges, but it eventually stuck with people.”
From Soccer to Service
In the early 1980’s, Jawad and a few friends started “Dearborn Stars,” a local soccer team created to stay active and pass time. Although it was entertaining and engaging for a couple of months, Jawad was called in a different direction.
“I was reading that all these Lebanese from around the world were starting Lebanese clubs,” said Jawad. “So I looked at the guys and said let’s start one.”
From there, the Lebanese-American Heritage Club (LAHC) was born.
Since 1989, the organization has given over $1.5 million in scholarships for deserving Lebanese-American students.
But it didn’t start that way.
Jawad recalls facing pushback from some community members who labeled him as a “right-winger” for his Lebanese patriotism.
“People started accusing me and putting labels on me,” he said. “But my goal was to end the discussion of politics and stop our self-created divisions.”
That’s when Jawad called on Lebanese youth to come forward and take leadership roles in community activities.
“We told the older generations that LAHC has no Amal, no Kataeb,” he said, referring to opposing political factions in Lebanon. “We told them if you want to get involved in politics, go fight in the Republican or Democratic arena.”
Jawad wanted to see the Arab community more involved in American affairs. He said he emphasized involvement on “both wings” — both American and Lebanese community involvement.
“America is built on immigration,” Jawad said. “But for Arab-Americans we had to double our resources because of all the problems in the Middle East.”
Jawad said “doubling” resources began with encouraging undergraduate and post-graduate education.
“We started giving out four scholarships and it naturally kept growing and growing,” said Jawad. “We started getting American corporations involved and American politicians and it grew to a whole new level.”
Encouraging Future Leaders
Today, LAHC is one of the largest and most respected Lebanese-American organizations in the country. Jawad gives credit to many community supporters who helped craft his vision, including former Consul General of Lebanon Nasrat El Assaad.
But more importantly, Jawad credits future generations of Lebanese-Americans for continuing the organization’s legacy and contributing to its global success.
“My proudest moments is when I see the youth get a scholarship and do something positive,” he said. “I’m always proud to see the next generation go to college, open businesses, and take leadership positions.”
Hussein Hachem, founder of the Youth Leadership Committee of LAHC, is one of them.
“For me, LAHC is a place for common ground,” said Hachem. “It’s a place where we can be proud of our community and grow together.”
Jawad said his vision can only improve in the hands of community members like Hachem. This year the organization will award $103,000 in scholarships to 43 students of high academic distinction at the 27th Annual Awards Gala on May 8.
“You never know when you start something where it will end up,” said Jawad. “Sometimes you see success from the angels.”
UPDATE: Harlan apologized on Thursday saying: “In no way did I mean to imply that because of our community’s make up, there was a higher risk of ISIS threats.”
(DEARBORN, MI) — WDIV-TV Local 4 news anchor Carmen Harlan upset many Michigan Muslims after making a comment on the state’s alleged ties to ISIS during a broadcast on the Detroit NBC affiliate on Wednesday.
When asked about a possible “ISIS threat in Michigan”, Harlan said “given the fact that we have the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East, I guess this should not come as a real surprise.”
Many Arab organizations have voiced concern over Harlan’s comments, urging the TV station to apologize.
“This shocking lapse of professional conduct was directed against law-abiding citizens who strive to create vibrant, diverse communities wherever they live,” said Fatina Abdrabboh, director of the Michigan American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
“Naturally, this type of analysis is very problematic for our community as we watch the impact of blanket indictments on the Arab-American and Muslim community that have nothing to do with the ISIS phenomenon at all.”
The threat of ISIS in Michigan has not been authenticated by security officials, according to media reports.
“These offensive comments based on an unconfirmed threat only stir up animosity toward Michigan’s Arab community,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Comments like these are an example of racial profiling at its worst and Carmen Harlan should apologize immediately.”
The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE, led by the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a program of ACCESS, urged Harlan to apologize on air.
“Carmen Harlan’s comment about the Arab American community is appalling, offensive and dangerous,” said Nadia Tonova, director of NNAAC. “As a reporter, she has a responsibility to remain objective in her reporting and not draw conclusions for her audience. We request that WDIV immediately address this racially charged comment.”
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