Briefing Highlights Positive Relationships between Arab-American Community and Law Enforcement

Diversity News 02.8,11

Last Thursday, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill to publicize the positive relationship between Arab-American communities and law enforcement.

In his opening statements, ADC’s legal director Abed E. Ayoub attributed the increasingly heated political atmosphere surrounding Arab- and Muslim-American communities to “the myth of the relationship between the Arab world and law enforcement being a bad one, or that the two have no relationship at all.” Thursday’s briefing attempted to dispel that myth by presenting a more realistic picture of law enforcement’s relationship with Arab- and Muslim-Americans as it has progressed over the past decade.

One of the briefing’s panelists, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, said that in her home district of Eastern Michigan, trusting relationships between local authorities and Arab-American communities “help law enforcement more effectively combat radical extremism on both sides of the equation.”

However, civil rights attorney Sahar Aziz said that even as things continue to improve in local communities such as McQuade’s, law enforcement still needs to implement critical reforms if it hopes to maintain a positive relationship with the Arab-American community on the national level. She emphasized federal legislation as a potential tool to improve the national relationship, recommending the passage of bills such as such as the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA). “These legislative efforts can improve community relations by proving to Arab-Americans that the U.S. government is committed to reforming its discriminatory policies,” said Aziz.