Dearborn music video sparks controversy

(DEARBORN, MI) — When local rapper Basel “Baze” Hachem uploaded a music video on YouTube this week, it resulted in a social media firestorm for its depiction of young local Arab Americans partying at a hookah lounge.

Baze uploaded the video, titled “Can’t Let Go Remix”, on September 14. Within hours, it captivated the attention of the local community as it was shared across social media

The Arab American News posted the music video on its Facebook page and within 48 hours it had reached more than 20,000 Facebook users and sparked hundreds of mixed comments.

The plot of the video involves Baze serenading a woman in front of local hookah bar Blue Cafe, located on Schaefer Road. in east Dearborn. Inside the hookah lounge, dozens of college-aged locals are seen dancing, smoking hookah and lip syncing the song’s lyrics.

Baze’s clip did seem to generate strong backing by many, who expressed the importance of supporting locals who are trying to break into the entertainment industry. But many of those supporters were drowned out by the most controversial aspect of the video:

It captures two local young women— both of whom wear the headscarf— dancing and lip syncing along with dozens of other men and women. It ignited a range of debates on the hijab in Islam, and the “expected” behavior that comes with the territory.

“The two girls in the headscarves, one is my sister and the other is my cousin,” Baze told The Arab American News. “What people were saying about them was a disgrace. They are grown women, adults supporting their family.”

Baze said he was prepared for the backlash when he decided to let his sister and cousin appear in the video. His wife is also in the video, playing the woman he serenades. They, along with hundreds of other local young adults, showed up at Blue Cafe in August when he distributed flyers asking supporters to join him for the video shoot. It was shot by New Age Media, a local up-and-coming production company.

Since the release of the video, many commentators were also appalled at the “questionable” image the video may be setting for the community. But Baze said it’s the reality of a modern day Dearborn.

“The atmosphere of that video is what happens every weekend at all the cafes in Dearborn,” he said. “My video is innocent. When they have entertainment nights at hookah bars, don’t you see hijabi’s dancing and doing the dabke? When you go to a wedding, don’t you see the proud mother dancing in front of everyone? They were doing normal stuff, but people blew it out of proportion.”

Baze said criticism comes with the territory of his career choice. He was born in Saudi Arabia and moved to Detroit with his family when he was 4-years-old. He soon developed a passion for music, listening to late rapper Tupac Shakur while growing up.

Despite challenges from his father, Baze said he moved out of his home when he was 18 to pursue a career as a rapper. He began writing his own music, releasing free-style mix tapes and distributing them for free. His musical style is versatile, tackling life themes and infusing it with street and club vibes.

“I started off in my own community, they were in my mind first before I went to any other city,” Baze said. “I was on my own. The family wasn’t supporting me and I was giving CDs away for free, thousands of them.”

Due to word of mouth, he would soon earn a positive reputation in the local hip hop scene and would begin charging for shows and mix tapes, making a steady income. He said his family eventually came around to the idea of accepting his career choice.

His music has made it as far as Chicago and Miami and he has also developed a large following in such local cities as Sterling Heights and Novi.

He plans to stay in Dearborn with his wife and two children and hopes his music will eventually reach music executives in Hollywood. He said social media has become his strongest marketing tool.

Baze is aware that it’s not all too common for Arab Americans to pursue careers in the entertainment industry, but referenced former Dearborn resident Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010, as a good example of someone who pursued her dreams while facing community backlash.

“It’s challenging knowing you are going to get hated on in your own community, but it helps you build up and move on from it,” he said. “If you don’t have haters, you aren’t doing anything right. The people who have been supporting me, without them, my music wouldn’t go anywhere and I thank them.”

Source: New America Media via Arab American News, Samer Hijazi, September 27, 2014
See original report here or here.

Lebanese American Club of Michigan announces new scholarship opportunity

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(DETROIT, MI) – The Lebanese American Club of Michigan (LACOM) announced a new scholarship opportunity for students of Lebanese descent on Monday.

The $1,000 scholarship aims to financially assist one Lebanese-American student with tuition, books, and other educational expenses.

Students are required to have at least a 3.5 grade point average and write a 500-word essay about what their Lebanese heritage means to them.

The essay question asks, “What does your Lebanese-American heritage mean to you, and how will you help preserve its rich culture and history?”

To apply for the scholarship, see the information below. For more information, call Charlie Kadado at (248) 924-4854.

LACOM Scholarship Opportunity

Agent: Farid Fata planned to buy $3M castle in Adma, Lebanon

(DETROIT, MI) — A 15-page FBI search and seizure warrant claims Lebanese-American Dr. Farid Fata performed medically unnecessary cancer treatments and directed his staff to lie to patients and insurance companies to justify spending.

On September 17, Fata pleaded guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, two counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks. He faces sentencing in February before U.S. District Judge Paul Borman.

The FBI believes emails to workers, drug companies, and financial advisors will prove how Dr. Fata committed health care fraud. The 19-page affidavit included several emails.

In one email from July 2012, Dr. Fata wrote to a drug manufacturer after they denied a grant to his charity, “Swan for Life.” The FBI says the drug manufacturer was told to donate $10,000 to the charity or Dr. Fata would stop ordering the drug.

He writes, in part:

PHOTO: Fata speaking at a "Swan for Life" fundraising event.
PHOTO: Fata speaking at a “Swan for Life” fundraising event.

“I expect further support form AMAG, Please proceed ASAP. I will be happy to talk to Dr. XXXXXX to reconsider IF ANYBODY DESERVES SUPPORT IT IS US! i.e. SFLCF Please advise, Dr. Fata.”

Reports also say Fata was looking at investment opportunities in Lebanon, particularly in luxury properties in the Jounieh coastal area.

FBI Special Agent Bryan Drake focused on an August 2010 email exchange between Fata and his financial advisor. The subject line read “URGENT!!!!!”

Dr. Fata wrote:

“I need a favor from you. My dad has a great deal on a castle all furnished in Adma/Lebanon! … Can you pls get in contact with my dad and go see the house! It is for $3,000000…Let me know if you can see the house. What is the economic benefit and the housing market in Adma? Is there an economical value in investing in such house?”

Fata asked if he could tap one of his numerous trusts to pay for the castle.

PHOTO: Emails released by the FBI say Fata wanted to use money from the foundation he used to donate to church, to buy a $3M property in Lebanon.
PHOTO: Emails released by the FBI says Fata wanted to use money from the foundation he used to donate to church, to buy a $3M property in Lebanon.

“Can this be funded from the Fata Foundation?” he wrote, according to the search warrant.

The “Fata Family Foundation” was also used to make contributions to a Melkite Catholic church in Warren, according to public 990 forms.

It is unclear if Fata ever invested in the castle.

PHOTO: Dr. Farid Fata's wife has fled to Lebanon with her three children.
PHOTO: Sources say Fata’s wife has fled to Lebanon with her three children. (Hour Detroit)

Meanwhile, Samar Fata, the wife of Dr. Farid Fata and the CFO of Michigan Hematology Oncology, P.C., has fled the country to Lebanon with the couple’s three children, sources said.

Federal investigators alleged that from August 2007 to July 2013 Fata’s health maintenance organization practice billed Medicare for around $225 million, of which $109 million was for chemotherapy or other cancer treatments.

Of the approximately $225 million, Medicare paid more than $91 million to Fata’s medical practice. Many of the treatments, government attorneys charge, were administered to patients who did not even have cancer.

The FBI wanted to search the doctor’s Hotmail account to trace tens of millions of dollars that flowed through various Fata-related entities, according to the search warrant.

National American Arab Nurses Association to host third “Angel of Mercy” awards banquet

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(DEARBORN, MI) — The National American Arab Nurses Association (NAANA) will hold its third “Angel of Mercy” Awards Banquet at Byblos Banquets in Dearborn on Thursday, October 2. Afaf I. Meleis, PhD, DrPS (hon), FAAN, Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing and Professor of Nursing and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, will keynote the event.

Rose Khalifa, founder and president of NAANA, said, “The contributions of nurses often go without public acknowledgement. We know that there are several nurses who positively impact the health and well-being of the Arab American community daily, whether they are Arab American themselves or unselfishly serve the community’s needs for care.”

The keynote presenter will be Dr. Afaf Meleis, a world renowned nurse and scientist. Her scholarship is focused on global health, immigrant and women’s health, transitions and health and the structure and organization of nursing knowledge.

In addition to serving as Dean and Professor, Dr. Meleis is Director of the School’s WHO Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery Leadership.

In an effort to recognize the contribution of Arab American nurses or nurses whose work has had a major positive impact on the Arab American community, NAANA has created the Angel of Mercy Award. The Arabic phrase for nurse translates to “angel of mercy.” NAANA will honor the following three members of the nursing field for their commitment to their profession:

Hiba Wehbe-Alamah, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, CTN-A, TCN Scholar, Associate Professor, University of Michigan-Flint

Kamal Eldeirawi, PhD, RN, BSN, MSN, Affiliate Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, Assistant Professor, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar 2013-2016

Dena Essa, RN, Operating Room Nurse, Oakwood Healthcare System

Tickets and sponsorships are available by contacting Suehaila Amen at 313-615-1515, by e-mailing events@n-aana.org or by visiting www.n-aana.org.

Dr. Farid Fata pleads guilty to 16 counts of healthcare fraud

(DETROIT, MI) — A Detroit-area cancer doctor of Lebanese descent has pleaded guilty to 16 federal charges and admits he gave patients unneeded treatments before billing Medicare and other insurers.

Dr. Farid Fata made the pleas Tuesday in U.S. District Court, where he was scheduled to go on trial on October 14.

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PHOTO: Fata’s home in Oakland Township, MI during an FBI raid last year.

There was no plea deal with the U.S. Justice Department. Fata pleaded guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy and two counts of money laundering.

Fata owned Michigan Hematology Oncology, which had many offices in suburban Detroit. He told Judge Paul Borman that he ordered treatments for patients knowing that they were unnecessary and then submitted insurance claims.

“It is my choice,” he said of his decision to plead guilty. “I knew that the infusions were medically unnecessary.”

The government says Fata used a Hotmail account to execute his alleged crimes, including orders to staff and inquiring about a $3-million castle in Lebanon, his native country.

Fata and his family were active members of the Lebanese-American community. He was also the founder of the “Swan for Life Cancer Foundation,” an organization supported by several Lebanese-Americans.

PHOTOS: Lebanese Forces Michigan Memorial Mass for Bachir Gemayel

(WARREN, MI) — The Lebanese Forces Michigan Chapter recently hosted a memorial mass for Bachir Gemayel, Lebanese politician, militia commander, and president-elect, who was assassinated on September 14, 1982 at the age of 34.

The mass was held at Saint Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church in Warren, Michigan.

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Detroit becomes “immigrant-friendly” city

detroit-michigan-immigrant-city(DETROIT, MI) — The city of Detroit is joining a national initiative aimed at creating immigrant-friendly environments.

The Detroit Immigration Task Force plans to announce Monday that Detroit will participate in “Welcoming Cities & Counties.”

It joins New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities in the program that also looks to maximize opportunities for economic growth through immigration.

The resolution says the initiative “aims to build cooperation, respect, and compassion among all in our city, including immigrants and non-immigrants alike.”

Task force members include immigrant community leaders, nonprofit service providers and immigration experts.

The group has been working since January to draft a comprehensive city-wide plan to help Detroit become a diverse, inclusive and global city.

City Councilwoman Raquel Castañeda-López says “Detroit’s immigrants historically played a key role in making the city one of the greatest in the world.”

VIDEO: Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce hosts ‘Garden Party’

(BIRMINGHAM, MI) — The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce welcomed two candidates for United States Congress on Wednesday during the group’s annual ‘Garden Party’ in Birmingham, Michigan.

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Photo courtesy John Akouri.

Candidates Mike Bishop and Dave Trott chatted with Lebanese and Middle Eastern chamber members about some of the issues facing the Middle East.

“The Lebanese community is a very influential community within Southeast Michigan and for an individual candidate running for office today to think that they could run for office without approaching the Middle Eastern community would be non-constructive,” said John Akouri, the president and CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Akouri, who said the Chamber does not endorse candidates, asked Congressman Bishop to clarify his position on Middle Eastern foreign policy.

“We need a strong foreign policy, we need to restore America’s dignity,” Bishop said.

Other attendees included FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Abbate, Our Lady of Redemption Pastor Michel Cheble, French Chamber Executive Director Stephanie Salvadero, Attorney Joumana Kayrouz, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Senator Marty Knollenberg and his wife Lori Boutros Knollenberg, Birmingham Mayor Mark Nickita, Consul General of Mexico Juan Manuel Solana Morales, Consul General of Iceland Eric Christian, and retired Consul General of Jordan Karim Ajluni, Esq.

Watch highlights:

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3jjyGn0BeM” width=”500″ height=”300″]

St. Sharbel to host 7th annual ‘Taste of Lebanon’ festival

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(WARREN, MI) — 10,000 Metro Detroiters are expected to attend a three-day festival, which offers authentic Lebanese food, traditional dabke’ dances, family activities, and cultural events.

The 7th Annual “Taste of Lebanon” Festival hosted by Saint Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church in Warren will offer a rich sampling of Lebanese traditions, including authentic Lebanese food made from Michigan produce and ingredients.

The menu features a smorgasbord of healthy and succulent meals, including chicken and beef shawarma, kafta, shish tawook, falafel, kibbee balls, hummus, tabouli, saj-baked bread, and an assortment of Lebanese and American desserts.

The festival will also host entertainment provided by popular, nationally recognized American and Lebanese performers and disc jockeys. Family activities, including face painting, moonwalks, bouncy houses, dance performances, and raffles will also be available.

A Vendor and Craft Fair will be held Saturday (11am-6pm) and Sunday (12pm-6pm), and will welcome local artists, crafters, and fashion and make-up expos.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which was founded by Lebanese-American Danny Thomas, who was born in Metro Detroit.

The festival is from 5-11 p.m. on Friday, September 5; noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday, September 6; and noon to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 7, at St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church (31601 Schoenherr Road. Warren, MI 48088). An outdoor divine liturgy will be offered for peace in the Middle East on September 7 at 11am. For more information, visit www.TasteofLebanonFestival.com.

Dearborn Muslims rally against ISIS

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 11.55.52 PM(DEARBORN, MI) — Muslim leaders gathered on Monday on the steps of Dearborn City Hall to strongly condemn the Islamic State or ISIS, saying the militant groups in Iraq and Syria don’t represent Islam or Muslims.

ISIS members are “crazy criminals who are abusing our religion,” said Imam Mohammed Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights. “You’re a bunch of gangsters … you’re not Islamic.”

Organized by imams with the Michigan Muslim Community Council, the speakers included both Shiite and Sunni leaders of different ethnicities and races, all united in saying ISIS doesn’t speak for them.

“The beheading of James Foley … is a clear violation of the holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Mohammed,” said Imam Mustapha Elturk, who cochairs along with Elahi the Imams Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council. “ISIS neither represents Islam nor Muslims.

Monday’s event was the third anti-ISIS rally in Dearborn this summer that was organized by local Muslims. Two rallies organized by Shia leaders were held in Dearborn in June that condemned ISIS. Hundreds attended both rallies.

About 50 attended Monday’s rally, which included remarks by local imams, Osama Siblani, publisher of Arab American News in Dearborn, Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Steve Spreitzer, president and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.

“They are the enemies of humanity,” Siblani said of ISIS.

Siblani and Elahi asked the U.S. to stop supporting Syrian opposition groups such as ISIS. The U.S. has said it supports moderates in Syria’s opposition, not extremist groups like ISIS. Elahi also criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza.

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