WE ARE SAD but not surprised that Sami Merhi has been removed from the Democratic Party’s slate of freeholder candidates for Passaic County. Under pressure, Passaic County Democrats voted to replace Merhi with another candidate.

Political lynching of Arab-Americans is now an accepted practice. Every Arab-American is now Sami Merhi. The sense of being unwanted, unfit and outcast cannot simply be promoted as a reasonable price for political expediency or electoral considerations. The prevailing sense of letdown in the Arab-American community will require a period of mourning and also reflection.

As John Currie, the Passaic County party chairman, was entering the headquarters to chair the meeting to decide Merhi’s future, I asked him to please vote for and support him, for he is both deserving of the post and a loyal citizen. The chairman’s response was, “It is not about justice and fairness; it is about politics.”

I interrupted him, “But, Chairman, politics is supposed to render justice possible.”

Instead of responding to my assertion, he said, fully cognizant of the presence of the media and other supporters, “Sami Merhi has committed a political mistake and he has to pay for it.”

I knew then that Merhi’s political aspirations had already been decided, by Sen. Robert Menendez. I knew then that regardless of Merhi’s strong appeal for fairness and understanding, the judgment had already been passed down.

As a besieged community, we must resign ourselves to the reality that Arab-Americans are now facing a three-headed monster called profiling. One followed the tragic and horrible attacks of 9/11, when a community of 9 million Arab and Muslim citizens became the subject of intense and unconstitutional racial profiling. The second phase manifested itself in the economic profiling of Arabs as happened in the Dubai port deal, when Sen. Frank Lautenberg compared transferring port management to Dubai to transferring it to the “devil.”

Now, when Arab-American citizens wish to serve their community and their country, we take their money and then expediently offer them as sacrifice for the “good” of the party.

This is political lynching of the worst kind.


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