Speaking to an Arab American audience in Detroit, Democratic leader Howard Dean slammed those who divide the U.S. by scapegoating Americans with Middle Eastern ancestry.

“You have been singled out unfairly and unjustly … by politicians who hope to have a cheap electoral trick,” Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee, said today.

Dean spoke to a crowd on the last day of the Arab American Institute’s National Leadership Conference, which has drawn Arab Americans and politicos from across the U.S., including several Presidential candidates. In his speech, Dean cited successful Arab Americans such as former U.S. Sen. Majority Leader George Mitchell and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

“It is important for us to stand and recognize these leaders at a time when this community is under siege by those who would divide America in order to win elections,” Dean said.

A big theme of the conference was preserving the U.S. Constitution, which they said has come under attack under the Bush administration.

“I will follow the Constitution of the United States,” Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential candidate, said today to loud applause from the audience. “The erosion of our civil liberties is not just something that is felt by minorities — it affects all Americans … No more torture. No more extraordinary rendition. No more eavesdropping on our citizens without a court order. And the first day in office, I will close that symbol of American oppression. It’s called Guantanamo Bay.”

In a recorded video message played today at the conference, U.S. Sen. John Edwards said he too would close Guantanamo. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama also spoke in a recorded message, saying that under his administration, “the rights of every American will be fully respected and protected.” (MORE)


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