Arab-American leader wants McCain's apology

Arab-and Muslim-American leaders said Monday they want John McCain's campaign to apologize for severing ties with an Arab-American businessman serving on the Republican presidential candidate's Michigan finance committee.

Arab-American leader wants McCain's apology
Ali Jawad, founder of the Lebanese American Heritage Club, was listed with five other finance committee members on an invitation to a $2,300-per-person (Ð1,490) fundraising dinner McCain plans to attend Tuesday in Oakland County.

Jawad and his supporters said during a news conference that he was asked to resign from the committee after Michigan blogger Debbie Schlussel wrote that he had ties to the Lebanese group Hezbollah. They said her comments they said were based on rumor and innuendo.

We do not want a president who makes a decision ... based on false information,' said Osama Siblani, president of the Arab American Political Action Committee and publisher of the Arab American News. This is an insult to every Arab-American and Muslim-American in the country.'

Requests for comment were left Monday afternoon with the McCain campaign.

Besides an apology, Siblani said Jawad's supporters also want McCain to ask the businessman to rejoin the finance committee. Jawad said it would be premature to say whether he would accept such a request.

Jawad said Monday evening that the accusations by Schlussel were false, including any links to Hezbollah. On one particular trip to Lebanon, he said, he met with the U.S. ambassador, who arranged all his appointments with the president and members of parliament.

This is our country by choice,' he said. We're patriotic Americans, as much as anyone else.'

McCain plans to be in Michigan for Tuesday's fundraiser and plans to hold a town hall meeting with supporters Wednesday morning at a local university. There are over 300,000 people in southeast Michigan who trace their roots to the Middle East.

Monday's news conference was held at the Lebanese American Heritage Club in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb widely considered to be the center of Arab America.

Jawad is president of Dearborn-based Armada Oil and Gas Co. He moved to the United States in 1976. A Republican, he said he has contributed to Republican candidates as well as Democrats such as Michigan Sen. Carl Levin.

Schlussel said among her concerns about Jawad were two federal cases involving him and his company: He was convicted in 1997 in U.S. District Court in Detroit for insurance fraud and sentenced to probation. His company was convicted the same year of mail fraud and was ordered to pay more than $250,000 in fines and restitution.

She also alleges that he has met with Hezbollah leaders and Hezbollah-allied members of the Lebanese parliament on two trips to Lebanon.

John McCain did the right thing by asking Ali Jawad to leave,' she said.

For his part, Jawad said he was not forced into resigning. He asked to be removed from the committee after receiving two calls from the McCain campaign inquiring about the allegations and questioning his integrity and loyalty to this country.'

Siblani said McCain is starting off on the wrong foot' with Arab- and Muslim-Americans with this decision, and if the candidate stands by it he could lose many of its voters.

This shows you (McCain's campaign) doesn't care about our community,' he said. This group is essential to "the war on terror". We need to work with the government hand in hand.'

Agencies

Last Mod: 06 Mayıs 2008, 17:31
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