Muslim passenger claims harassment on Delta Airlines flight

(DETROIT, MI) — A Muslim woman from Dearborn says Delta Airlines mishandled a harassment case on a flight from Florida to Detroit.

Darlene Hider, 32, said she was with her four kids and husband when another woman yelled, “This is America!” and insulted her because of her Islamic faith.

Instead of asking the woman to stop, Delta flight attendants told Hider to “get your kids and change seats.” She was later moved to the rear of the plane.

“I felt as if I wanted to defend myself but I couldn’t because of the Islamophobia going on,” Hider told BuzzFeed News. “It’s enough that I wear a scarf. We have to prove ourselves every day to people and it gets tiring. I’m not a terrorist. I’m American.”

According to Hider, the flight attendant said: “You are at my wit’s end. You better be quiet before I kick you off this plane!”

Hider’s brother, Abed Ayoub, is the legal and policy director at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

“Everyday Muslims and Arabs are discriminated against in America,” Ayoub posted on Twitter. “They are sisters, wives, mothers and don’t deserve this.”

“As a civil rights attorney I work with victims of discrimination all the time. Corporations like Delta need to respond better,” he said.

Brian Kruse, a spokesman for Delta Airlines, say they’re reviewing the situation.

“Delta does not condone discrimination of any kind,” he told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday.

The president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Samer Khalaf, is now calling on Delta to better train their flight attendants.

“We encourage Delta to take immediate steps to rectify this matter and ensure that their agents are better equipped to address instances of harassment,” he said.

The ADC released a video that they say shows part of the incident. A flight attendant is heard saying: “You want to get off the plane? I’m fixing the problem. If you want, we will take you out.”

WATCH video footage of Hider moving seats:

Imam Al-Qazwini resigns amid Islamic Center controversy

(DEARBORN, MI) — Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini resigned from his duties as spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of America (ICA) on Ford Road in Dearborn, Mich. on Friday.

In a speech to the Young Muslim Association, Al-Qazwini called ICA board members “racist” and “selfish,” and called on the packed congregation to urge them to step down.

“For 18 years, I kept my mouth shut,” he said. “I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Al-Qazwini has been the target of anonymous letters that accused him of corruption and adultery, including diverting mosque money for his father’s projects in Iraq.

He has strongly denied all allegations, except admitting that he sent some money to his father’s charitable orphanage in Iraq.

Al-Qazwini, who was born in Iraq, says he was also the victim of racism by Lebanese board members, who wanted to fund projects in Lebanon, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Ron Amen, the chairman of the board, confirmed Qazwini’s resignation.

“The news came as a total shock to the board,” Amen told the Arab American News. “I think it’s a huge mistake. There have been derogatory comments about the Sayed, but I don’t believe resigning is the way to handle the adversary.”

Lebanese-American radio host Afaf Ahmad says she’s being attacked for publishing controversial YouTube videos about ICA issues.

“It’s very said,” she said. “This is how the Arab community reacts to a female journalist is doing her job and telling the truth. Thanks to those who believe in my mission since only brainwashed people are attacking me mostly from fake accounts.”

On Twitter, supporters are defending Al-Qazwini with the hashtags #SupportQazwini and #WeSupportQazwini.

“The community I know is better then this,” wrote Danielle Mallad. “Should we not come together instead of dividing apart? Stop the hatred!”

Another Twitter user wrote: “I admire and respect you for your 18 years of loyal service to our community, you will be greatly missed.”

WATCH Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini speak to the Young Muslim Association:

Michigan’s newest county commissioner was born in Lebanon

(DETROIT, MI) — Lebanese-American Abdul Haidous is one of Michigan’s newest county commissioners having carried a swift primary election and uncontested general election.

Haidous is the former mayor of Wayne, Mich., where he served for 13 years as the first Muslim of Arab descent to be elected mayor in the United States, according to his biography.

Haidous was born in the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil, where he spent his early years before moving to Senegal to work at a family business.

After deciding to immigrate to the United States, Haidous worked for a Monroe area restaurant and General Motors before opening “Al’s Friendly Market” in Wayne, which he ran from 1974 to 2007.10868096_10152574396346437_4345506690406031292_n

On January 21, Consul General of Lebanon in Detroit Bilal Kabalan and several community activists visited Haidous to congratulate him on his recent election.

“Commissioner Haidous is an American Lebanese success icon with more than two decades of regional political history,” Kabalan said in a statement. “His high ethical standards are an example to be followed.”

Haidous is the recipient of dozens of prestigious honors, including being named “Person of the Year” in 1991 by the Wayne Chamber of Commerce and receiving a “Service Award” from the Arab American and Chaldean Council in 2007, among others.

Haidous and his wife Balassem celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary on election day. They have five children and 10 grandchildren.

Lebanese-American skydiver dies after tragic jump in Michigan

(LANSING, MI) — A Lebanese-American skydiver died on Wednesday after his parachute failed to deploy during a BASE jump from a television news tower in Tompkins Township, Mich.

BASE stands for building, antenna, span and earth.

Jackson County police say Josh Sheppard, 31, was killed after falling from a 1,000-foot tower owned by Lansing TV station, WLAJ-TV.

Sheppard was an active parishioner at Our Lady of Redemption Melkite Catholic Church in Warren, Mich. He was also involved in the Melkite Association of Young Adults (MAYA) chapter.

Sheppard’s mother, whose maiden name is Michaels, is actively involved in the church community.

“It was always a pleasure to be around Josh Sheppard – such an infectious smile and positive attitude,” wrote one of his friends on Facebook. “He will be missed.”

Sheppard and his family owned “Skydive Owosso” a skydiving company in Owosso, Mich., 90 miles from Detroit.

Editor’s Note: Lebanese Examiner sends our deepest condolences to the Sheppard and Michael families. May his soul rest in peace.

Lebanese American Heritage Club honors young leaders

(DEARBORN, MI) — The Lebanese American Heritage Club (LAHC) hosted its Third Annual Youth Leadership Committee Banquet on Nov. 29 at Byblos Banquets in Dearborn.

The group honored Attorney Ali Hammoud, president of the Arab American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) and journalist Charlie Kadado, managing editor of

“I am very proud to receive this award from an organization I am so proud to be a part of,” Hammoud said. “I want to inspire young people to have a drive and a passion because then anything will be possible.”

Kadado talked about his humanitarian mission called “Giveback Lebanon,” which is taking place from now until Dec. 31. He says the project aims to provide hundreds of Christmas gifts to low-income and underprivileged Lebanese children and seniors.

“Give back to your motherland that has given you so much,” he said. “The least we can do is to give back to the root of our cultural identity and uniqueness.”

LAHC Youth Leadership Committee Board Member Ali Saad was also presented with the President’s Call to Service Award from President Barack Obama, which recognized 4,000 hours of lifetime community service.

The event featured several community leaders and activists, including Ali Jawad, founder of the LAHC. Many young people from local universities supported the banquet, which is held each year near Lebanon’s Independence Day anniversary.

Youth Leadership Committee Founder Hussein Hachem was presented with a plaque honoring his “relentless dedication” to the organization, which strives to support and celebrate the achievements of Lebanese-American youth in Michigan.

Hachem thanked Jawad and other community members for their activism and encouragement to the young people of the community.

He also introduced a local Lebanese-American activist for the disabled, Khodr Farhat, who delivered brief remarks.

To learn more about the LAHC Youth Leadership Committee visit

LACOM honors CLFW and Project Roots at Trailblazer gala


(WARREN, MI) — The Lebanese American Club of Michigan (LACOM) honored the Christian Lebanese Foundation in the World (CLFW) and Project Roots at their annual Trailblazer Award Gala on November 22.

CLFW is a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC that aims to connect Lebanese expatriates with their roots, by registering them as Lebanese citizens.

The award was accepted by Nada Abisamra, the director of CLFW and Project Roots, who spoke about the importance and simplicity of registering births and marriages in Lebanon.

“Lebanon needs us,” she said. “We must act now to preserve our roots. If we don’t act now, Lebanon will lose its cultural diversity and confessional conviviality.”

Abisamra said it should be a “civic duty” for the Lebanese diaspora to register in Lebanon.

“We are guilty for leaving Lebanon, but also guilty for detaching ourselves from our roots. Registering yourself and your children is not only a right, it is a priority and a civic duty,” she said.

LACOM says it is pleased to recognize an organization that works to maintain balance among Lebanon’s religious communities.

“LACOM is proud to help facilitate a cause that aims to portray a pluralistic Lebanon and to strengthen Lebanon’s image as an oasis of freedom and democracy in an already troubled Middle East,” said Dr. Wissam Shaya, president of LACOM.

Bishop Elias Zaidan, who serves the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, delivered keynote remarks, urging political groups to stay out of Lebanon’s influence.

“Lebanon should not be working for political parties. Political parties should work for Lebanon,” he said.

He also called Abisamra and other CLFW regional representatives “missionaries” for traveling across the country and spreading a “positive and critical” mission.

Michigan CLFW Campaign Coordinator Charlie Kadado hosted a registration campaign on Nov. 23, where he called on the Lebanese-American community to “urgently” register to protect Lebanon’s diversity.

“CLFW and Project Roots both exemplify the spirit of coexistence and unity, while strengthening demographics to maintain pluralism in a country that relies on religious balance and harmony,” he said. “Now is your chance to register your births and marriages and preserve the qualities that make Lebanon so unique.”

To register in Michigan, call Charlie Kadado at (248) 924-4854. For all other states, visit for a list of regional representatives and coordinators.

To view photos of the gala, click here.

PHOTOS: OU students celebrate Lebanese Independence

(ROCHESTER, MI) — More than 200 people celebrated Lebanese Independence Day at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. on Friday, marking the 71st anniversary of Lebanon’s Independence from France.

“We wanted to promote the Lebanese culture around campus and end the false stigmas about Lebanon,” said Lisa Shammas, President of the Oakland University Lebanese Student Association (OU-LSA). “It adds to the diversity of our university and provides students with important knowledge about  cultures.”

The student association premiered their new dabke group, which Shammas says was instructed by a choreographer from Lebanon. The group will perform at the LSA Unified Gala, which will take place on January 17, 2015.

“It’s exciting to spread the word about our culture,” said Amanda Fawaz, Vice President of Fundraising for the student group. “Even though people leave Lebanon, they still interact with their heritage.”

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam cancelled official Independence Day celebrations on Friday, citing the “current situation” for scrapping government-hosted events. Students say the security crisis shouldn’t deter Lebanon from celebrating its independence.

“I think we’re making up for their lack of celebration,” said Fawaz. “We hope to make the people of Lebanon proud for hosting events like these.”

VIEW photos of the event:


IMG_3073 IMG_3074 IMG_3081 IMG_3083 IMG_3088 IMG_3091 IMG_3099 IMG_3103RELATED: Students at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor hosted a Lebanese Independence Day celebration on Thursday. Click here to read more.

PHOTOS: Religious leaders pray for Christians in the Middle East


(DETROIT, MI) — Over 900 people attended a special service intended to pray for Christians in the Middle East at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit.

Allen Vigneron, Catholic Archbishop of Detroit, called the gathering for Chaldean, Melkite, Maronite, Armenian, Syriac, and Latin Rite Catholics.

“It was very inspiring and very uplifting,” said Khouloud Yammine, a Maronite Catholic who attended.

Lebanese Maronite Bishop A. Elias Zaidan, Maronite priests Chorbishop Alfred Badawi and Father Tony Massad, Orthodox Archpriest George Shalhoub, and Melkite priest Father Michel Cheble participated in the prayer.

VIEW photos of the service:

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U of M students celebrate Lebanese Independence

(ANN ARBOR, MI) — The Lebanese Student Association at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor hosted a Lebanese Independence Day celebration on Thursday, inviting students of other cultural backgrounds to learn about their Lebanese heritage.

“We want to educate others about our Lebanese culture,” said Ayah Anani, president of the student-run group. “It is a chance for us to exchange cultural identities with other students and show them what Lebanon is about.”

John Akouri, President and CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce, spoke about Lebanese-American success stories and the importance of IMG_2985preserving a cultural heritage.

“We see successful Lebanese-Americans in almost every sector,” said Akouri. “From business to law, medicine to technology, Lebanese-Americans have built a strong reputation across the country.”

Donations from the event were given to the “Giveback Lebanon” project, which aims to serve underprivileged Lebanese children and seniors this Christmas, the group says.

Anani says the group is busy planning for the Annual LSA Unified Gala, which will take place on January 17, 2015.

Four universities — University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, Oakland University, and University of Michigan – Dearborn — participate in the gala, which draws 800 people annually and awards four $1,000 scholarships to Lebanese students.

RELATED: The Oakland University Lebanese Student Association will also host an Independence Day event on November 21. For more information, click here.

Muslim woman files suit against Advance America

(DEARBORN, MI) — An Arab American woman filed a discrimination lawsuit against Advance America in Inkster, Mich. on Wednesday.

Raghdaa Ali says she walked into a cash advance provider in June when the clerk told her to “get out,” she told WYXZ-TV in Detroit.

Ali claims the clerk pointed to a dress code sign on the door and asked her to leave, saying her religious head scarf violated the no hat policy.

“This is our beliefs and our religious (beliefs) — we cannot take it off. She said if you cannot take it off, we cannot serve you,” she told WXYZ-TV.

Ali filed a federal lawsuit against the corporate parent, claiming that Michigan does not require the removal of the scarf for state ID, and asking to remove her headscarf is unlawful.

“Lack of (knowledge of) religious culture,” is to blame says Ali. “This is my country and I have the same right as they have.”

Advance America Cash Advance was founded in 1997 and is the largest provider of the non-bank cash advance services in the United States.

“For the safety of our customers and employees, Advance America requires the temporary removal of hoods, hats, sunglasses and other head coverings in order to be admitted into our centers,” said Jamie Fulmer, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Advance America. “We intend to vigorously defend the legitimate security purpose of our practice in court.”

Ali says she has the support of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee.

“In this instance, we are talking about a religiously protected activity. In this instance, we are talking about mistreatment towards somebody because of the way they look,” says Fatina Abdrabboh, the director of the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee.

Watch the WXYZ-TV report below:

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