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Commerce chief to focus on local Arab business

October 6, 2009

Can anyone imagine Christians and Jews asking the U.S. Commerce Secretary, the CIA director, Dept. of Homeland Security and Agricultural Secretary to come and visit us?

What do we do if we are concerned about our civil rights, our security, our commercial interests?

D.

Commerce chief to focus on local Arab business

Commerce chief to visit Dearborn today

BY NIRAJ WARIKOO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER | Detroit Free Press 6 Oct. 2009

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke plans to meet with Arab Americans and Muslims in Dearborn today to discuss ways their communities can help improve the economy.

Reaching out to small business owners, Locke is to discuss with metro Detroit Arab Americans a range of issues that affect some metro Detroiters, including a lack of access to capital and the importance of the 2010 U.S. Census.

Arab Americans and Muslims said they hope to address their concerns about civil rights. Local leaders said they will bring up the issue of profiling at borders when they travel, the freezing of economic assets, and access to the Department of Commerce. They said they believe that unfair treatment by security agencies has hampered their ability to conduct business that can help the local economy.

“The Arab-American community can play a vital role in helping turn metro Detroit around,” said Abed Ayoub, a Dearborn native and legal adviser for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which organized the meeting in partnership with the department.

Locke’s by-invitation-only meeting at the Lebanese-American Heritage Club in Dearborn is to be the latest in recent months by an Obama administration department head. CIA Director Leon Panetta, Department of Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack all have met this year with Arab Americans in Dearborn.

Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO: 313-223-4792 or warikoo@freepress.com

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