Intellectual Dishonesty and Sectarian Incitement at the “Arab American” News: More of the Same

The Arab American News false and misleading in reference to my writing
Journalist Afaf Ahmad, Divaa, spared no time responding to Osama's falsities

I write a regular column for the Detroit based Forum and Link. On a visit to Dearborn, I was struck by community drama over the 19th district judicial primary elections.  Curious to know the reasons, I spoke with a number of people of different backgrounds. I used these interviews in an entry on my blog. The same appeared in the Forum and Link of August 11, 2016.

There were a number of themes in the interviews, These themes include:

1.   There is community- wide frustration with Osama Siblani and his paper. Osama uses his paper as the “National Inquirer” and the community is sick and tired of that.

2.   Osama’s years of activism have gotten to his head and made him think that he “made the community,””he is the dean of the community,” “he is the community,” “he speaks for the community and “he decides who from the community can speak.”

3.   Osama is dictatorial, immoral and unethical. After promoting attorney Dabaja for city council, he turned around and stabbed her in the back by using his paper to magnify a smear campaign against her.

4.   There is a new generation that refuses to be led the way Osama led previous generations. This is a generation that has achieved much success educationally and professionally. They are not the generation of low education, first generation, small business owners that largely deferred to Osama’s diktat.

5.   Osama’s attack on Susan Dabaja is sexist since he was trying to bring her, the wife, down for the previous mistakes of her husband.

6.   The sexism theme also came up with the Osama- journalist Divaa Afaf Ahmad saga. Afaf, unlike Osama, is a professional journalist. She took Osama head on over issues of public concerns. On Facebook, Osama called Afaf a “whore” instead of responding to her criticism and concerns. 

7.   Osama and his paper divide the community and the paper over and again has been used to settle scores with Osama’s real and perceived enemies.

8.   Osama is seen by many Sunnis as a sectarian and divisive. The sectarianism and division is "rampant" in his Arabic-language section. He presents two faces- one to the English- speaking public and another for the Arabic- speaking reader.

In response to the interviews, Osama had one of his writers write the following in the Arabic language section of the paper dated 8/12/2016:

“Ihsan Alkhatib wrote a column full of racism, sectarianism and hatred. Alkhatib wrote that the Sunnis hate Osama because he is Shiite.” The translation is mine.

One is entitled to their opinion, but not to their facts. The complaint one hears in Detroit is that Osama’s paper, especially the Arabic section, is full of sectarian incitement and that Osama has evolved or devolved into a sectarian divisive figure. More than one my interviewees stated that because many Sunnis see Osama as a divisive and sectarian figure, they voted against him by voting for the candidate that he was going against. 

They say the proof is in the pudding. The fact that Osama’s paper, irresponsibly and unethically, misrepresented what I wrote, proves that the sense that Osama Siblani and his paper are sectarian and divisive is indeed right.

Below is the excerpt from the column that Osama’s paper misrepresented:

Interview # 3:

Osama is really disliked by many Sunnis and many of those who are not Lebanese. They believe he has evolved into a parochial Shiite Lebanese activist and they reject him. The fact that he, in effect, took ownership of the Bazzi nomination, hurt Bazzi with those who are not Shiites and/or not Lebanese.

But both candidates are Shiites, Lebanese and are from families that are from Bint Jbail? Yes, and both are great women and great lawyers. It is a question of who is supporting whom. Due to who is pushing the candidacy, Dabaja is the whole community candidate and Bazzi, due to no fault of her own, became the “Osama candidate.” And Osama is seen by many as a divisive figure. Osama hurt Bazzi’s chances.

Interview # 4

-How do you see the 19th district primary election? Bottom line is that you have the Shiites divided between Bazzi and Dabaja. And the Sunnis solidly behind Dabaja because they don’t like Osama and his politics which they see as Lebanese sectarian and divisive. Osama hurt Bazzi’s chances. 

These two excerpts prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Osama's paper callously misrepresented my writing. The intellectual dishonesty and sectarian incitement at the “Arab American” News has to stop. 


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