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Chicago: Arab American communities across the US have kicked off a month-long celebration of National Arab American Heritage Month—April—with festivals and entertainment showcasing the richness and beauty of their culture.

President Joe Biden, governors, legislators, mayors and other elected officials in 45 states representing more than 500 government agencies adopted resolutions and proclamations honoring the national cultural festival.

Festivities, which always feature a vast array of Middle Eastern food, were somewhat muted during the start of the month in honor of Muslims fasting for Ramadan, with many celebrations scheduled for after the holy month ends on April 20. .

One of the many celebrations across the country was hosted on May 1 by Maria Pappas, the Cook County Treasurer of Illinois, who received the most votes in recent regional elections.

“Arab Americans have advanced our country in diplomacy, science, technology, food and the arts,” said Pappas, who has translated his office’s documents into 28 languages, including Arabic.

“Arab Americans are at the forefront of the fight for civil rights and social justice. It is important that the Arab American community is seen and celebrated.

Pappas presented Certificates of Excellence for Community Activism to 35 business, education and professional Arab American leaders.

Universities from Northwestern to Harvard host Arab American Heritage Month events, as do mainstream museums across the country.

Arab students at Northwestern University The institute held its first-ever Arab American Heritage Month recognition, which includes a series of events throughout the month that include panel discussions and speeches addressing the challenges of discrimination facing Arab Americans.

University of Southern California Middle Eastern North African Student UnionWith more than 800 students participating from 22 Arab countries, hosted one of the state’s largest Arab American Heritage Month celebrations.

“We are proud that in Illinois we passed a law that makes Arab American Heritage Month an official state event and we do not have to expect officials to approve resolutions or proclamations. The law recognizes this, and we hope Let’s make sure every state follows Illinois’ lead,” said Hassan Nijem, a Palestinian American who serves as deputy treasurer for Pappa.

“Maria is working for all communities in Illinois, regardless of race, religion or ethnic origin. But she is the first woman to engage our community on such a large scale in her government office.

Although only 27 of the nation’s 50 states recognize the month saluting Arab American culture, Illinois codified the annual commemoration in legislation it adopted in 2018.

Arab Americans first arrived in America during the 17th century and served the country in the military, including the Civil War in the 1860s, the two world wars, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and more recent wars in Iraq and Syria.

For many years, Arabs in certain states and territories, such as Michigan, Illinois, California, Arizona, Texas, and Washington DC, have celebrated Arab American Heritage Month individually and during different months of the year, November, April, and June.

That changed in 2017 when Arab American leaders banded together to advocate for a national recognition to join other ethnic groups, inspired by the introduction of first-ever legislation in Illinois declaring April Arab American Heritage Month. , which each year celebrates its heritage, including that of Black Americans. , Hispanic American, Native American and Asian American.

President Biden was the first president to recognize April in 2022 as Arab American Heritage Month, and this year he issued a proclamation on March 31 urging the entire nation to celebrate the richness and diversity of Arab culture.

The president’s efforts to recognize Arabs suffered a setback this week when Syrian American Mohammed Khairullah, one of the Arab community’s longest-serving Arab-American mayors, was barred from attending the White House Ramadan Eid celebration on Monday, May 1. banned from taking

Khairullah told The Ray Hanania radio show, sponsored by Arab News and broadcast by the US Arab Radio Network, that Biden should end racism against Arab Americans, who are both Christian and Muslim.

American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee It also hosted a series of Arab Heritage Month events through its national chapters in a dozen US states.

This month several institutions focused on educating school children about Arab culture, such as the Duval County Parent Teachers Association, which hosted a month-long series of events and educational programs on Arab culture and history.

DCCPTA Teacher urged schools to improve their teachings on Arab history and culture, concluding: “school counselors need to understand the needs of these students in the context of culture, politics and religion to meet the unique needs of these students.” Not adequately trained. The Arab American experience is jeopardizing their academic success and emotional well-being.

Nijem said she hopes the April celebration of Arab American Heritage Month will expand to include every US state by next year.

“We are good people. We are proud to be Americans and proud to be Arabs.’ “By God’s grace, there should be no obstacle that prevents every state from celebrating Arab Heritage Month next year.”

Since the Illinois law was signed in January 2018, only 44 states have approved proclamations recognizing April as Arab American Heritage Month.

“There are Arabs in every state. It’s just that we are not counted in the US census, and we expect the federal government to change that and count Arabs as Americans because we are,” Nijem said.

In a symbol of the growing influence of Arab Americans, Steven Landek, mayor of the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, took the oath of public office as the first Arab American trustee to serve on the village board. Kalid Bust was named as the successor to James Secott, who retired from office.