MI: Candidates Vie for Arab-American Support


Ali Dagher and Belal Abdallah came to Dearborn as children, brought by parents looking for the opportunities that abounded in the 1970s.

Dagher and Abdallah, Muslims whose families are from Lebanon, became fast friends in the city that boasts the nation's largest concentration of Arab Americans.

Dagher became a lawyer and Abdallah a doctor of internal medicine. Now, among their immigrant friends, they are the only two left in Michigan.

"We came here for two reasons -- economic opportunity and liberty. And now we have neither," said Dagher, 42.

He talks about the poor economy and sees erosion of Arab Americans' civil liberties since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"Everybody else has left because there are more opportunities overseas," he said.

Both men say they will vote for Democrat Barack Obama for president.

A national poll last month by the Arab American Institute found that the economy and job security were the leading issue for Arab Americans, named by 63%.

Fifty-two percent said Obama was best equipped to deal with the economy; 34% said Republican John McCain would do better. The war in Iraq was the top issue for 37% of those polled.

The poll of 500 Arab Americans gave Obama a 46%-32% lead over McCain.

"There is more enthusiasm at the grassroots level for him," said James Zogby, executive director of the institute. (MORE)

 


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