Tim Sm Eicwo mc Twus Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Thursday, September 29, 1994 * PA*E 10
iddle East of the
Arabic community thrives in Michigan city
PHOTOGRAPHER: JONATHAN LuRIE
EDITOR: EVAN PETRIE
s the sounds of prayer coming from
the mosque fade away, children run
onto the street and into the market
on the corner. They come out with
bags of Fritos and stuff them into
their Zatar rolls, rolled up pita filled
with a mixture of tyme and olive oil, a traditional Midle
Eastern snack. The Arab community of Dearborn, Michi-
gan, is a thriviing community made up of immigrants
from all of the 22 Arab countries. The majority of the
Dearborn community is Lebanese, with a large number
of Palestinian and Yeminite people as well.
Immigration into the United States began in
the 1800's for Middle Eastern peoples, with the settling
of Dearborn occuring around 1900, according to Ishmael
Ahmed, the director of Access, a community services
organization in Dearborn. The opening of the Model T
plant in Dearborn brought what is now the second largest
concentration of Arabs outside of the Middle East, now
numbering 100,000 in the Detroit area.
The streets of Dearborn are filled with busi-
nesses, from butcher shops and bakeries, to video stores
and coffee houses. In the coffee houses the local men
meet to play cards and drink the sweet Turkish coffee of
the Middle East. The saw dust on the floor and the
Arabic music playing in the background brings out the
Mr. Salmaci, whose father had brought him from
Lebanon to Brazil before settling in Dearborn, talked of the
opportunity available in the United States. In Brazil, he
said, the average person does not have the possibility to
make a life for themselves as they do in the United States.
"My son is a boxer, he is also going to school in the
University, where else can someone do both of these things
without having to give up the other?"
The children do not all share their parent's excite-
ment about the United States. Standing outside the mosque,
one ofthe children said that he wanted to go back to Yemen.
An echo of"yeah, me too" came out of the group. "In Yemen
you can drive whenever you want, you don't have the stupid
rule of waiting till you're 16." While this may just be kids
wanting to be free, anti-immigrant and anti-Arab senti-
ments have been running high in the past years, and
growing up in the United States as an Arab child can be
'difficult, said Ahmed.
Mohammed Shabana, just moved to Dearborn
two months ago from New York where he had been living
for the past three years. Originally from Cairo, Egypt,
Shabana hopes to finish his engineering degree soon. "I
really love Dearborn," he said, "I came and looked at the
area and decided to move my family here. There is a sense
of community here, I feel more at home here then I did in
The Arabic community is growing in Dearborn,
Top right: Randi Alashkar makes meat pies at a local Arabic bakery.
Top left: Chlkken study passages from the Koran between prayer sessions at the conuity mosue.
Center: ArabIc girls donning traiflonal "h jbs" exit a local m-sket with bags of Cbeetos and zatar rolls.
Above: Two en play "Arbatas," an Arabic card game solar to rummy, whIle eb iag cIgarettes, Turkish