Lebanese-American comedian ‘NEMR’ to visit Michigan, DC

(DETROIT, MI) — Lebanese-American comedian ‘NEMR’ will visit Detroit, Mich. and Washington, DC in April to appear in several comedy venues, including the Lebanese Collegiate Network student convention on April 10.

NEMR is credited with establishing English comedy skits in the Middle East and for advocating on behalf of Lebanese youth and encouraging them to stay in Lebanon.

He’s also an accomplished comic with six full feature specials and a prime-time television show called “A Stand Up Comedy Revolution.” He holds the record for biggest show in every major country in the Middle East, which sold out to 4,000 people in Beirut last July.

NEMR grew up in San Diego, California before moving back with his family to Lebanon where his career in comedy took off.

The comedian will appear at the Lebanese Collegiate Network Convention in Ann Arbor, Mich. on April 10, Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak, Mich. on April 12, and the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC on April 16.

For tickets and information for the DC show, click here. For more information about the Royal Oak show, click here.

Lebanese Forces Detroit elect new president after bylaw changes

(DETROIT, MI) — The Lebanese Forces Detroit Chapter announced the election of a new president under new international bylaws passed and approved by the Lebanese Forces headquarters in Lebanon.

Former President Tony Malouf was succeeded by local business owner John Moussawer during a general meeting held at St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church in Warren, Mich. on March 8.

The group’s bylaws changed since Malouf’s election in 2010 after the party headquarters in Lebanon announced they were altering articles of elections by “making them more democratic,” according to a news release.

“We’re building this true democratic political party in the Middle East,” said Tarek Madi, vice president of the Lebanese Forces Detroit Chapter. “We have the new bylaws, the new system now and the elections happened in November, but we were waiting for Lebanon to approve.”

Madi said the newly elected board plans to host social and political events that “give back to both the Lebanese Christian and Muslim communities.”

“We’re going to have monthly political meetings and work with American congressmen and host fundraisers for them,” Madi said. “We will also continue to host members of parliament from Lebanon.”

Moussawer previously served as Lebanese Forces president from 2006 to 2010, according to Madi. His term will last four years.

LebaneseExaminer.com is an independent news organization, free of any allegiance to political parties, movements, candidates, or causes.

Christian Lebanese Foundation to host 10 registration campaigns in March

(WASHINGTON, DC) — The Christian Lebanese Foundation in the World (CLFW) announced it would host ten registration campaigns for Lebanese citizenship this March.

CLFW says there are many political, business, and social advantages to becoming a Lebanese citizen, including the right to vote in municipal and legislative elections, and the right to own and inherit property.

The organization adds that registration also helps maintain religious pluralism in Lebanon, by protecting minority religions in the country and providing them with equal governmental representation.

“The religious conviviality is the true mission and vocation of our country,” said Nada Abisamra, director of the DC-based organization. “What we need is to get each Lebanese descendant who has the right to be registered in the official registry of Lebanon to do so.”

The Arab American Institute estimates that 3.3 million Americans are of Lebanese descent, and the majority are Christian, including Maronite Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic.

CLFW hopes to add hundreds of new citizens to Lebanon’s official records in March. They plan to host registration campaigns in 9 cities across the country:

  • Cleveland, Ohio – March 4, 2015 – St. Maron Church – 1245 Carnegie Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115
  • Tampa, Florida – March 7, 2015 – St. Peter and Paul Maronite Catholic Church – 6201 Sheldon Road, Tampa, FL 33615
  • Phoenix, Arizona – March 7 & 8, 2015 – St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church – 5406 E Virginia Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85008
  • San Francisco, California – March 13, 14, & 15, 2015 – Our Lady of Lebanon – 600 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030
  • Encino, California – March 15, 2015 – Holy Martyrs Armenian Church – 5300 White Oak Avenue, Encino, CA 91316
  • Easton, Pennsylvania – March 15, 2015 – Our Lady of Lebanon – 55 S 4th St, Easton, PA 18042
  • Cincinnati, Ohio – March 15, 2015 – St Anthony of Padua Maronite Church – 2530 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45206
  • Livonia, Michigan – March 22, 2015 – St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church – 32765 Lyndon Street, Livonia, MI 48154
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – March 22, 2015 – St. Sharbel Catholic Church – 10325 Rancho Destino Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89183

Interested applicants are urged to bring their citizenship documents, which include a Lebanese family civil registry, marriage certificate, and birth certificate(s).

For more information, visit clfw.org.


Growing up as a Lebanese-American

Editor’s Note: Krista Abboud’s piece, ‘Growing up as a Lebanese-American’ appeared on CNN iReport on Feb. 14, 2015. The following post chronicles her upbringing in modern Lebanese-American culture.

My name is Krista Abboud, and I’m a 25 year old female Lebanese-American. Both of my parents were born and raised in Lebanon. Taking that a bit further, everyone in my family was also born and raised there. I was the first person born here, making me a first-generation American.

It’s definitely a different lifestyle growing up with foreign parents and family, and I wouldn’t have changed that experience for the world. I have always considered it a blessing to be able to know two worlds, speak two languages, and have such a morally strong culture embedded in me.

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since I was a little girl, my parents would always speak to me in Arabic. They never wanted me to lose the language. They knew once I started school I would be speaking English non-stop, and they wanted me to master the art of both languages.

My grandparents on my dads side spoke no English at all, which probed me to always speak Arabic with them. My grandparents on my moms side knew a good amount of English, but also always spoke to me in Arabic for similar reasons.

My most fond memories growing up are the times I visited Lebanon with my parents. I remember it being something I always looked forward to. The weather, the food, the beach, the people — all of it felt like home away from home to me. Lebanon is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.

Lebanese people have such a distinct culture, it was hard at first to mesh with my American friends. I always had a lot of Lebanese friends growing up, because we just understood each other. We were used to the ‘no boys’, ‘no sleeping outside of the house except at grandmother’s house’, ‘no speaking English’ atmosphere. Whereas, with my American friends, this was all a new and strict world for them to see.

I remember being envious of girls at a young age in my class that were allowed to have boyfriends and sleepovers.  I always assumed they had much more freedom than me to go about things the way that they wanted to. I never understood why my parents were so strict, and why they disabled me from doing anything ‘fun’ at the time. It wasn’t until I grew up a little bit and started to understand the discipline, that I began to admire my parents and my culture in total.

My dads story is one I always tell to people, not only because he is extremely close to me, but also because it displays why he is such an amazing father, husband, and person in general.

My dad came to America in his late teen years with barely anything in his pocket. He worked at multiple jobs, he put himself through school, got himself an apartment, bought a car, and worked as hard as he could to build a better future. His story is the epitome of the ‘American Dream’ that people speak of. He came here with nothing, grew up with nothing, and somehow hard work allowed him to persevere in so many ways. That is one of the biggest reasons I admire him.  He is the most humble person I’ve met.  He is selfless and always seeking to do good and to help others.

My mom had quite a different story, but I think that is why her and my dad meshed so well. She grew up with a lot of money. Her dad flew her and my uncle here in their teen years and set them up at a nice apartment. She went to college at Duquesne University (where 20 some years later i ended up attending as well) and she met my dad through mutual Lebanese friends. Growing up with money never shaped my moms giving side. She had the money and she liked to spend it on others.  My mom always made sure to teach me the do’s and don’ts of being a Lebanese woman.  She is also the epitome of what a true Lebanese morally embedded woman is.  I am blessed to be like her in a lot of ways.

Every summer I was inclined to go to Lebanon for a month or so, attend a Lebanese youth retreat, or to attend the National Apostolate of Maronites Convention (known as NAM). Our people really like to stick together in more ways than one. I started attending youth retreats, which enabled me to meet Lebanese Americans all over America (as we would all meet in a different city every year). This was beyond a cool experience for me. I got to meet people my age who were going through the same things I was, and actually understood me. It wasn’t weird for me to express to fellow first generation Lebanese Americans that I wasn’t allowed to do sleep-overs or have a boyfriend. The response I received was always coming from an understanding similar stance.

The stereotypes of growing up in a Lebanese household are usually funny but very true. You were told to be a doctor or a lawyer. (This devastated my parents to know after one year of law school, it wasn’t for me). You were told to only date and marry Lebanese people. (The thought process was because no one else fully gets our culture and why we do the things we do. Also, children growing up and speaking arabic was a key factor in thinking about who to marry.) Hummus, grape leaves, kabobs, rice, and other Mediterranean style food were consistently a part of my weekly menu. Which wasn’t so bad, Lebanese food is amazing and extremely healthy!

I would say the peak of understanding everything started when I was about 18 years old. I went back to Lebanon after not going for a few years. This trip was different for me. Maybe it was because I was maturing in a different way, but the stars aligned with certain things and I began to fully understand both worlds. I spent 3 and 1/2 months in Lebanon to test out if I could ever live there full time. The answer is probably not. Spending that much time away showed me how much I appreciate America and where I was born and raised. Lebanon is a beautiful place, but there is a reason everyone from my family came to America.

This trip showed me different things about my culture and why we are the way we are, why a lot of us think the way we think. Lebanon can be a bubble at times (for people who never got the opportunity to leave) and I consider it a blessing that my family was able to migrate here.

Through time, a lot has been revealed through my family Americanizing a lot of their ways. Don’t get me wrong, we still have the important factors of our culture and roots embedded in us — that will never go away. We still speak, read, and write Arabic as much as possible, we listen to the music, and we eat the food. There is just a bigger understanding now (for example for my parents) after living here for over 30 years they understand why things work differently than they do overseas.

It is funny to see a lot of modern culture using things I grew up doing and knowing about: I.E. hummus, hookah, belly dancing, etc.

I truly hope all Americans realize what they have here. Because, outside of these walls things are extremely different.

All in all, as I stated in the beginning of my passage, I would never change the way I grew up or the things I was subjected to for the world. Every aspect was a learning curve and humbled me, and also shaped me to become the person I am today.

Orthodox priest calls for religious unity after Chapel Hill massacre

(LIVONIA, MI) — An Orthodox priest from Michigan is condemning the Chapel Hill massacre and calling on religious leaders to unify in memory of the three Muslim students killed.

The students, who attended the University of North Carolina, were found dead Tuesday night after a 46-year-old gunman shot them execution style in the head outside of their condominium complex.

Father George Shalhoub of the Basilica of Saint Mary Antiochian Orthodox church in Livonia, Mich. said he was “heartbroken” by the news.

“It is with great sadness and human brokenness; we heard of the Chapel Hill massacre and saw the lives of three young people knocked away by the hand of an outraged man,” he said.

The victims were identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha Barakat, 21, of Chapel Hill, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.

Deah Barakat, a dental school student, was planning a medical mission trip Syria to aid Syrian refugees next summer.

Shalhoub, who is of Syrian descent, said the world lost “dreamers, scientists, (and) peacemakers” through the tragedy.

“This vicious act of violence and inhumanity, whether at the hands of the military, terrorists or hate groups, must be dealt with the strongest reaction in awakening human consciousness to live as God has asked us to be — peacemakers, good neighbors and bridge builders,” he said.

RELATED: Three Muslim students killed in North Carolina. Read more.

Three Muslim students killed in North Carolina

(CHAPEL HILL, NC) — Three Muslim-American students were shot to death at the residential complex of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Tuesday.

Police say Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was arrested and charged with killing the students.

The victims, all shot in the head, were identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21, of Chapel Hill, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh, police said.

The father of two of the victims called the shooting a “hate crime” based on their Islamic faith. But Chapel Hill police said that “preliminary investigation indicates the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking,” according to a statement posted online.

“We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case,” the statement said, quoting Police Chief Chris Blue.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt called the killings a “senseless and tragic act surrounding a long-standing dispute.”

“I share strong feelings of outrage and shock with my fellow citizens and university students — as well as concerned people everywhere,” he said. “We do not know whether anti-Muslim bias played a role in this crime, but I do recognize the fear that members of our community may feel. Chapel Hill is a place for everyone, a place where Muslim lives matter.”

On the UNC campus Wednesday night, several thousand people attended a candlelight vigil in memory of the students. In Raleigh, a moment of silence was planned during the North Carolina St. vs Virginia basketball game, according to Chancellor Randy Woodson.

Hicks, who turned himself in to authorities, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the fatal shootings. His Facebook profile boasts a page called “Atheists for Equality” where he frequently published posts critical of religion.

The hashtag #ChapelHillShooting and #MuslimLivesMatter were trending on Twitter just a few hours after the shooting, including several thousand tweets criticizing Western media for not covering the shooting.

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:

American Foundation for Auxilia elects new president

(WASHINGTON, DC) — The American Foundation for Auxilia recently elected Dolly Gebeily president of the charitable organization, assuming roles and responsibilities from outgoing president Najib Rached.

“I believe it’s time someone new come in and take over with new blood and new ideas,” said Rached. “Dr. Gebeily’s dedication and commitment to the organization will bring a good attitude and trust from the people.”

Gebeily, who has administrative experience in the health care industry, says she is “honored” to have this position.

“I will do my best to continue the work that my predecessor, Mr. Najib Rached, has done for many years,” she said. “We promise to maintain transparency in the donation process and maximize efficiency in channeling the donations to the sponsored children.”

Auxilia says the 2015 Board of Directors are President Dolly Gebeily, Treasurer Fady Chaccour, Secretary Samar Malouf, and Board Members Najib Rached, George Nassar, Joseph Dfouni, and Nada Al Haddad.

The organization is planning to launch a website in the coming weeks, according to Gebeily.

“(Auxilia’s) new interactive website will display its activities, increase the visibility of the organization, and attract volunteers. I am confident that our team will excel in achieving these ambitious goals, and I look forward to working  to continue strengthening AFFA,” she said.

Lebanese director continues film tour in North Carolina

(RALEIGH, NC) — Lebanese director Philippe Aractingi continued his film tour in the United States to promote “Heritages,” an autobiography film narrating the exile of his family across four generations.

Aractingi visited North Carolina State University for a screening hosted by the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies, according to the university student-run newspaper.

Akram Khater, the Khayrallah Center director, says Aractingi’s film can educate the general public about Lebanese history and the growth of the diaspora.

“So this event that we had tonight was specifically part of our mission to bring this kind of information to the general public and the United States,” Khater told The Technician. “We arranged for him to come here, because we thought it was an important film for the North Carolina State to see.”

Aractingi says Lebanese parents, especially emigrants, should talk to their children about Lebanese history and culture.

“Do not make a cut with our past and where we came from. It is important to give our lives and stories to our children,” he said.

VIEW photos of Aractingi’s visit to North Carolina:

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RELATED: Lebanese film director Philip Aractingi visits NY to promote latest film. Read more.

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