|1,698,570 (2010 Census) – 3,700,000 (Arab American Institute 2016)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Arabic, American English|
Arab Americans (Arabic: عَرَبٌ أَمْرِيكِيُّونَ) are Americans of Arab ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage or identity, who identify themselves as Arab. Arab Americans trace ancestry to any of the various waves of immigrants of the countries comprising the Arab World.
According to the Arab American Institute (AAI), countries of origin for Arab Americans include Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are 1,697,570 Arab Americans in the United States. 290,893 persons defined themselves as simply Arab, and a further 224,241 as Other Arab. Other groups on the 2010 Census are listed by nation of origin, and some may or may not be Arabs, or regard themselves as Arabs. The largest subgroup is by far the Lebanese Americans, with 501,907, followed by; Egyptian Americans with 190,078, Syrian Americans with 148,214, Iraqi Americans with 105,981, Moroccan Americans with 101,211, Somali Americans with 85,700, Palestinian Americans with 85,186, and Jordanian Americans with 61,664. Approximately 1/4 of all Arab Americans claimed two ancestries, Arab Americans, and Arabs in general, comprise a highly diverse amalgam of groups with differing ancestral origins, religious backgrounds and historic identities. Instead, the ties that bind are a shared heritage by virtue of common linguistic, cultural, and political traditions.
A number of peoples that may have lived in Arab countries and are now resident in the United States are not classified as Arabs, including; Assyrians (a.k.a. Chaldo-Assyrians) Berbers, Jews, Kurds, Turkmen, Azeris, Mandeans, Copts, Circassians, Shabaki, Armenians, Turks, Mhallami, Georgians, Yazidis, Balochs, Iranians and Kawliya/Romani.
- 1 Population
- 2 Religious background
- 3 Non-Arab Americans from Arabic countries
- 4 Arab-American identity
- 5 Politics
- 6 Arab American Heritage Month
- 7 Festivals
- 8 Notable people
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
The majority of Arab Americans, around 62%, originate from the region of the Levant, which includes Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan, although overwhelmingly from Lebanon. The remainder are made up of those from Egypt, Somalia, Morocco, Iraq, Libya, the GCC and other Arab nations.
There are nearly 3.5 million Arab Americans in the United States according to The Arab American Institute. Arab-Americans live in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C., and 94% reside in the metropolitan areas of major cities. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city with the largest percentage of Arab Americans is Dearborn, Michigan, a southwestern suburb of Detroit, at nearly 40%. The Detroit metropolitan area is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans (403,445), followed by the New York City Combined Statistical Area (371,233), Los Angeles (308,295), San Francisco Bay Area (250,000), Chicago (176,208), and the Washington D.C area. (168,208). (NOTE: This information is reportedly based upon survey findings but is contradicted by information posted on the Arab American Institute website itself, which states that California as a whole only has 272,485, and Michigan as a whole only 191,607. The 2010 American Community Survey information, from the American Factfinder website, gives a figure of about 168,000 for Michigan.)
Sorting by American states, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, 48% of the Arab-American population, 576,000, reside in California, Michigan, New York, Florida, and New Jersey, respectively; these 5 states collectively have 31% of the net U.S. population. Five other states - Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania - report Arab-American populations of more than 40,000 each. Also, the counties which contained the greatest proportions of Arab-Americans were in California, Michigan, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
The cities with 100,000 or more in population with the highest percentages of Arabs are Sterling Heights, Michigan 3.69%; Jersey City, New Jersey 2.81%; Warren, Michigan 2.51%; Allentown, Pennsylvania 2.45%; Burbank, California 2.39% and nearby Glendale, California 2.07%; Livonia, Michigan 1.94%; Arlington, Virginia 1.77%; Paterson, New Jersey 1.77%; and Daly City, California 1.69%. Bayonne, New Jersey, a city of 63,000, reported an Arab-American population of 5.0% in the 2010 US Census.
|Ancestry||2000||2000 (% of US population)||2010||2010 (% of US population)|
According to the Arab American Institute, the breakdown of religious affiliation among persons originating from Arab countries is as follows:
- 63% Christian
- 24% Muslim
- 13% Other; no affiliation
The percentage of Arab Americans who are Muslim has increased in recent years because most new Arab immigrants tend to be Muslim. This stands in contrast to the first wave of Arab immigration to the United States between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when almost all immigrants were Christians. Most Maronites tend to be of Lebanese or Syrian extraction; those Christians of Palestinian background are often Eastern Orthodox. A small number are Protestant adherents, either having joined a Protestant denomination after immigrating to the U.S. or being from a family that converted to Protestantism while still living in the Middle East (European and American Protestant missionaries were fairly commonplace in the Levant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries).
Non-Arab Americans from Arabic countries
There are many immigrants to America from Arabic-speaking countries who are not classified as Arabs. Among these are Armenian Americans, Kurdish Americans, Coptic Americans and Jewish Americans of Mizrahi origin. It is very difficult to estimate the size of these communities. For example, some Kurds immigrated from Iraq, but also from Turkey and other non-Arabic speaking countries. Estimates place these communities at least in the tens of thousands. Other smaller communities include Assyrians (a.k.a. Chaldo-Assyrians), Berbers, Turkmen, Mandeans, Circassians, Shabaki, Turks, Mhallami, Georgians, Yazidis, Balochs, Iranians, Azerbaijans and Kawliya/Roma.
Most of these ethnic groups speak their own native languages (not Arabic) and have their own customs, though some speak their own dialect of Arabic. Also, the distinction between Arab and non-Arab identity is sometimes always blurred. For example, Aviva Uri, in her study of Mizrahi Jews in America, writes that "activists and writers in the United States, both gentile Arab and Jewish, are legitimizing through their various activities and publications the identity of Mizrahim as Arab Jews."
The United States Census Bureau is presently finalizing the ethnic classification of MENA populations. This process does not pertain to Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and other religious adherents, whom the bureau tabulates as followers of a religion rather than members of an ethnic group. In 2012, prompted in part by post-9/11 discrimination, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee petitioned the Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency to designate the MENA populations as a minority/disadvantaged community. Following consultations with MENA organizations, the Census Bureau announced in 2014 that it would establish a new MENA ethnic category for populations from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab world, separate from the "white" classification that these populations had previously sought in 1909. The expert groups, including some Jewish organizations, felt that the earlier "white" designation no longer accurately represents MENA identity, so they successfully lobbied for a distinct categorization.
As of December 2015, the sampling strata for the new MENA category includes the Census Bureau's working classification of 19 MENA groups, as well as Turkish, Sudanese, Djiboutian, Somali, Mauritanian, Armenian, Cypriot, Afghan, Iranian, Azerbaijani and Georgian groups.
The Arab American Institute and other groups have noted that there was a rise in hate crimes targeting the Arab American community as well as people perceived as Arab/Muslim after the September 11 attacks and the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.
A new Zogby Poll International found that there are 3.5 million Americans who were identified as "Arab-Americans", or Americans of ancestry belonging to one of the 23 UN member countries of the Arab World (these are not necessarily therefore Arabs). Poll finds that, overall, a majority of those identifying as Arab Americans are Lebanese Americans (largely as a result of being the most numerous group), although proportionally, as a group by national origin, Lebanese Americans identifying as Arab Americans may be smaller than, for instance, Yemeni Americans.
The Paterson, New Jersey-based Arab American Civic Association runs an Arabic language program in the Paterson school district. Paterson, New Jersey has been nicknamed Little Ramallah and contains a neighborhood with the same name, with an Arab American population estimated as high as 20,000 in 2015. Neighboring Clifton, New Jersey is following in Paterson's footsteps, with rapidly growing Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian American populations.
In a 2007 Zogby poll 62% of Arab Americans vote Democratic, while only 25% vote Republican. The percentage of Arabs voting Democratic increased sharply during the Iraq War. However, a number of prominent Arab American politicians are Republicans, including former New Hampshire Senator John E. Sununu, and California Congressman Darrell Issa, who was the driving force behind the state's 2003 recall election that removed Democratic Governor Gray Davis from office. The first woman Supreme Court Chief Justice in Florida, Rosemary Barkett, who is of Syrian descent, is known for her dedication to progressive values.
The values of Arab Americans are more similar to those of the Arab world than those of the American population on average, by being more closely aligned to the strong traditional values and survival values. This diminishes with secularization and second and subsequent generations.
Arab American Heritage Month
While the spectrum of Arab heritage includes 22 countries, their combined heritage is often celebrated in cultural festivals around the United States.
- New York City
The Annual Arab-American & North African Street Festival was founded in 2002 by the Network of Arab-American Professionals of NY (NAAP-NY). Located in downtown Manhattan, on Great Jones Street between Lafayette & Broadway, the Festival attracts an estimated 15,000 people, in addition to over 30 Arab and North African vendors along with an all-day live cultural performance program representing performers from across the Arab world.
The New York Arab-American Comedy Festival was founded in 2003 by comedian Dean Obeidallah and comedian Maysoon Zayid. Held annually each fall, the festival showcases the talents of Arab-American actors, comics, playwrights and filmmakers, and challenges as well as inspires fellow Arab-Americans to create outstanding works of comedy. Participants include actors, directors, writers and comedians.
Of particular note is ArabFest in Seattle, begun in 1999. The festival includes all 22 of the Arab countries, with a souk marketplace, traditional and modern music, an authentic Arab coffeehouse, an Arabic spelling bee and fashion show. Lectures and workshops explore the rich culture and history of the Arab peoples, one of the world's oldest civilizations. Also of new interest is the Arabic rap concert, including the NW group Sons of Hagar, showcasing the political and creative struggle of Arabic youth.
In 2008, the first annual Arab American Festival in Arizona was held on November 1 and 2 in Glendale, Arizona. There were more than 40,000 attendees over the two-day event; more than 35 international singers, dancers and musicians from all over the Arab World performed 20 hours of live entertainment on stage. Activities included folklore shows, an international food court, hookah lounge, kids rides and booth vendors, open to the public, and admission was free.
The Annual Arab American Day Festival is a three-day cultural and entertainment event held in Orange County. Activities include book and folk arts exhibitions, speeches from community leaders in the county, as well as music and poetry, dancing singing, traditional food, hookah and much more.
Since 1996, Milwaukee's Arab World Fest has been part of the summer festival season. It is held during the second weekend of August. This three day event hosts music, culture and food celebrating the 22 Arab countries. The festival features live entertainment, belly dancing, hookah rental, camel rides, cooking demonstrations, a children's area and great Arab cuisine. It is a family friendly festival on Milwaukee's lakefront.
Here are a few examples of famous Arab Americans and Americans with partial Arab ancestry in a variety of fields.
- Rima Fakih (Lebanese), Miss USA 2010, Miss Michigan USA
- Jawahir Ahmed (Somali), Miss Somalia 2013, Miss Africa Utah 2013
- Jaclyn Stapp (Jordanian), Miss New York 2004, Mrs. Florida America 2008
- Comedian Nazareth (Palestinian]] Award-Winning Comedian.
- Yousef Abu-Taleb (Jordanian), actor, lonelygirl15; film producer
- Adam Saleh (Yemeni), Youtube prankster
- Moustapha Akkad (Syrian), film producer and director
- Lorraine Ali (Iraqi), reporter, editor, culture writer, and music critic for Newsweek
- Mohammed Amer (Palestinian parents, born in Kuwait), comedian, writer, actor; Rolling Stone, Al Barnameg, Allah Made Me Funny
- Paul Anka (Lebanese), singer/songwriter
- Michael Ansara (Syrian), actor
- Zaida Ben-Yusuf (Algerian mother), portrait photographer
- Yasmine Bleeth (Algerian mother), actress
- Dick Dale (part Lebanese), musician, known as the "King of the Surf Guitar"
- Wafah Dufour (Saudi Arabian father), supermodel and singer
- Shannon Elizabeth (Syrian father), actress
- Jamie Farr (Lebanese), actor and comedian, known for his role as Maxwell Klinger in M*A*S*H
- Mohammed Fairouz (Arab), musician, composer
- Rima Fakih (Lebanese), Miss USA 2010
- Rami Malek (Egyptian parents) Actor
- Jamie Farr (Lebanese), Hollywood actor, known for his role as Klinger (also Lebanese) in the TV series 'M*A*S*H
- Ferras (Jordanian), Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter
- Fredwreck (Palestinian), hip hop producer
- Fawaz Gerges (Lebanese), ABC analyst and regular guest on Oprah's Anti-war series
- Hala Gorani (Syrian), CNN international news correspondent
- Gigi Hadid (Palestinian), television personality and model
- Dave Hall (Partly Lebanese) songwriter, composer
- Sanaa Hamri (Moroccan), music video and movie director; her films include the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
- Iman (Somali), model and actress
- Malek Jandali (Syrian), recording artist, composer and pianist
- Anissa Jones (maternal grandparents were Lebanese), former child actress, Family Affair
- Casey Kasem (Lebanese), radio personality and voice actor
- Kassem G (Egyptian/Jordanian), born Kassem Gharaibeh, comedian, actor, and the 18th most subscribed channel of all time on YouTube
- DJ Khaled (Palestinian), rapper, music producer
- Ronnie Khalil (Egyptian), stand-up comedian
- Qusai Kheder (Saudi), rapper, singer/songwriter, record producer, television personality, and DJ
- Hoda Kotb (Egyptian), television news personality on Dateline NBC and the Today Show
- Wentworth Miller (part Syrian/Lebanese), actor
- Najee Mondalek (Lebanese), actor, producer, playwright
- French Montana (Moroccan), New York rapper
- Remy Munasifi (Iraqi father/Lebanese mother), comedian also known as GoRemy
- Kathy Najimy (Lebanese), actress in many American films, including Sister Act
- George Noory (Lebanese), radio host, host of Coast To Coast AM
- Raef Haggag (Egyptian), singer
- RedOne (Moroccan), producer, songwriter, music executive
- Stephan Said (Iraqi descent), musician, writer, global justice activist
- Shanina Shaik (Saudi Arabian father), model
- Tony Shalhoub (Lebanese), executive producer and actor of Monk
- Vic Tayback (Syrian), actor
- Danny Thomas (Lebanese), actor and his daughter Marlo Thomas, actress
- Vince Vaughn (partially Lebanese), actor
- Sean Yazbeck (Lebanese), winner of Donald Trump's The Apprentice, NBC (2006)
- Frank Zappa (half Arab father), musician
- Justin Abdelkader (Jordanian), ice hockey forward playing for the NHL's Detroit Red Wings
- Oday Aboushi (Palestinian), NFL player of the New York Jets
- Sarah Attar (Saudi Arabian father), track and field athlete
- Rocco Baldelli (Syrian), professional baseball player with the Red Sox
- Doug Flutie (Lebanese father), NFL Player of the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers
- Bill George, NFL player and Hall of Famer
- Jeff George, quarterback for several NFL teams
- Isra Girgrah, boxer
- Drew Haddad (Jordanian), of the Indianapolis Colts
- Jim Harrick, UCLA’s coach
- John Jaha, baseball player, of the MLB Milwaukee Brewers
- Ahmed Kaddour (Lebanese), professional boxer, from NBC show The Contender
- Khalid Khannouchi (Moroccan), marathon world record holder
- Amir Khillah (Egyptian), mixed martial artist and The Ultimate Fighter contestant
- Rich Kotite, NFL coach
- Gavin Maloof, businessman and owner of the Sacramento Kings
- George Maloof, Sr. businessman and former owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets
- Ramsey Nijem (Palestinian), mixed martial artist and UFC fighter
- Joe Robbie, former owner and founder of the NFL's Miami Dolphins
- Sam Khalifa, baseball player of the MLB Pittsburgh Pirates
- Brandon Saad (Syrian), ice hockey winger playing for the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets
- Soony Saad (Lebanese), soccer forward playing for Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer
- Damien Sandow (Lebanese), WWE wrestler
- Rony Seikaly (Lebanese), former NBA player, now DJ
- Omar Sheika (Palestinian), professional boxer, four-time world title challenger
Writers and thinkers
- Abdisalam Aato (Somali), film director, producer, entrepreneur and media consultant
- Diana Abu-Jaber (Jordanian), novelist and professor
- Hady Amr (Lebanese father), diplomat, founding director of Brookings Doha Center
- Ismail al-Faruqi (Palestinian), philosopher and authority on Islam and comparative religion
- Susie Gharib, co-anchor of the Nightly Business Report, listed among 100 most influential business journalists
- Khalil Gibran (Lebanese), writer, philosopher, and painter
- Hala Gorani (Syrian), journalist and anchor of CNN's International Desk; Levantine Cultural Center
- Laila Lalami (Moroccan), novelist, journalist, essayist, and professor
- Ameen al-Rihani (Lebanese), writer
- Edward Said (Palestinian), literary theorist, thinker and outspoken Palestinian activist
- Steven Salaita (Palestinian and Jordanian), expert on comparative literature and post-colonialism, writer, activist
- Mona Simpson (Syrian father, Abdulfattah Jandali), novelist
- Helen Thomas (Lebanese), reporter, columnist and White House correspondent
Public figures and politicians
- James Abourezk (Lebanese), former U.S Senator from South Dakota (1973-1979)
- John Abizaid (Lebanese), retired general
- Spencer Abraham (Lebanese), senator from Michigan and Secretary of Energy under Bush
- Justin Amash (Palestinian/Syrian), United States Congressman from Michigan
- Victor G. Atiyeh (Syrian), former Governor of Oregon
- Rosemary Barkett (Syrian), U.S. federal judge and the first woman Supreme Court Justice and Chief Justice for the state of Florida
- Charles Boustany (Lebanese), US Representative from Louisiana; cousin of Victoria Reggie Kennedy
- Darrell Issa (Lebanese), U. S. Congressman from California
- James Jabara (Lebanese), colonel and Korean War flying ace
- George Joulwan (Lebanese), retired general, former NATO commander-in-chief
- Jill Kelley (Lebanese), global advocate and American socialite
- Victoria Reggie Kennedy (Lebanese), attorney and widow of late Senator Ted Kennedy
- George J. Mitchell (Lebanese), United States of America special envoy to the Middle East under the Obama administration, U.S. senator from Maine, Senate Majority Leader
- Ralph Nader (Lebanese), political activist, author, lecturer, and attorney
- Nick Rahall (Lebanese), congressman from West Virginia
- Selwa Roosevelt (Lebanese), former Chief of Protocol of the United States and wife of the late Archibald Bulloch Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt
- Zainab Salbi (Iraqi), co-founder and president of Women for Women International
- Donna Shalala (Lebanese), Secretary of Health and Human Services under Bill Clinton
- John E. Sununu (Palestinian), senator from New Hampshire
- John H. Sununu (Palestinian), Governor of New Hampshire and White House Chief of Staff under George H. W. Bush
- James Zogby (Lebanese), founder and president of the Arab American Institute\
- Johnny Khamis (Lebanese), Councilmember from San Jose
- Mohamed A. El-Erian (Egyptian), CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO
- Najeeb Halaby (Syrian), father of Queen Noor of Jordan Lisa Elhalabi; Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration; CEO and chairman of Pan Am
- Ray R. Irani (Palestinian), Chairman and CEO of Occidental Petroleum
- Steve Jobs (Syrian biological father, Abdulfattah Jandali), co-founder of Apple Inc.
- John J. Mack (Lebanese), Chairman of the Board and CEO of Morgan Stanley
- Manuel Moroun, owner of CenTra, Inc., the holding company which controls the Ambassador Bridge and Michigan Central Depot
- Jacques Nasser (Lebanese), former president and CEO of Ford Motor Company
- Moose Scheib (Lebanese), founder and CEO of LoanMod.com
- John Zogby (Lebanese), founder and current President/CEO of Zogby International
- Farouk El-Baz (Egyptian), scientist who worked with NASA to assist in the planning of scientific exploration of the Moon
- Elias James Corey (Lebanese), winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
- Charles Elachi (Lebanese), director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- Ali Said Faqi (Somali), leading scientist and researcher in toxicology
- Mona Hanna-Attisha (Iraqi), pediatrician, public health advocate and Flint Water Crisis whistleblower
- Ghada al-Mutairi (Saudi Arabian), inventor and scholar in nanotechnology and nanomedicine
- Ali H. Nayfeh (Palestinian), scholar in mechanics
- Nawal M. Nour (Sudanese), obstetrician and gynecologist
- Mohammad S. Obaidat (Jordanian), computer science/engineering academic and scholar
- Fawwaz T. Ulaby (Syrian), professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, former Vice President of Research for the University of Michigan
- Elias Zerhouni (Algerian), former director of the National Institutes of Health
- Ahmed Zewail (Egyptian), winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
- American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
- List of Arabic neighborhoods
- Arab American Institute
- Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services
- Arab diaspora
- Arab immigration to the United States
- Arab lobby in the United States
- Arabs in Europe
- Diaspora politics in the United States
- History of the Middle Eastern people in Metro Detroit
- Hyphenated American
- Iraqi diaspora
- Islam in Europe
- List of American Muslims
- Refugees of Iraq
- In this list are not included Sudanese since, in 2000 and 2010, Sudan and South Sudan were yet one country and yet we only have quantitative data from these groups together. Only the people of Northern Sudan are Arabs, but most Sudanese Americans hailed from the South Sudan. The 2000 - 2010 US Census indicate not the number of Americans of Sudanese (excluding South Sudanese) origin or descent.
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- Ben-Ur, Aviva (2009). Sephardic Jews in America: A Disasporic History. New York: NYU Press. p. 136. ISBN 9780814786321.
- Deena Yellin (2015-05-03). "Palestinian flag-raising is highlight of heritage week in Paterson". North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
- "2015 National Content Test" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. pp. 33–34. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
The Census Bureau is undertaking related mid-decade research for coding and classifying detailed national origins and ethnic groups, and our consultations with external experts on the Asian community have also suggested Sikh receive a unique code classified under Asian. The Census Bureau does not currently tabulate on religious responses to the race or ethnic questions (e.g., Sikh, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Lutheran, etc.).
- "Lobbying for a 'MENA' category on U.S. Census" Wiltz, Teresea. USA Today. Published October 7, 2014. Accessed December 14, 2015.
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- Cainkar, Louis A. Homeland insecurity: the Arab American and Muslim American experience after 9/11 (Russell Sage Foundation, 2009).
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- 2000 U.S. Census Report on the Arab-American population
- Learn more at the Arab American Museum located in Dearborn, Michigan
- A full definition of Arab Americans
- Us4Arabs - Arab American community website
- Arab American Festival
- New York Arab American Comedy Festival
- Seattle ArabFest
- Concert of Colors: Metro Detroit's Diversity Festival (ACCESS/AANM)
- Dearborn Arab International Festival
- Arab-American and North African Cultural Festival
Arab American organizations
- Arab Center of Washington
- Arab American Association
- List of Arab American organizations
- American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
- Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military
- The Arab American Council of Trade
- Levantine Cultural Center
- Network of Arab-American Professionals (NAAP)
- Arab American Civic Council
- Tunisian Community Center