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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Prominent Arab Americans try to spur Joe Biden to victory

Actors, songwriters and retired ambassadors make a final effort to get out the vote

Arab Americans for Biden hosted a voter engagement event online to boost the Biden campaign in the final hours before the election. Arab Americans for Biden
Arab Americans for Biden hosted a voter engagement event online to boost the Biden campaign in the final hours before the election. Arab Americans for Biden

A distinguished group of Arab Americans is calling on members of the community to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to make Joe Biden the next president of the United States.

“I think the choice is clear,” said Egyptian-American actor Ramy Youssef at an online voter engagement rally hosted by the Arab Americans for Biden group.

“If you came to this country like a lot of our families did, it was to have something better in life,” he said.

“It’s not perfect yet, but to get to those ideals we need an administration we can talk to, and we can talk to Joe Biden.”

Mr Youssef said that although he did not necessarily agree with all of Mr Biden’s policy positions, he did not want four more years of Donald Trump.

“The thing we’re looking for is to engage with the system … vote for Biden,” he said.

Ahmed Ahmed, a popular Egyptian-American comedian, joked about Mr Biden’s recent attempts to say “inshallah” during a debate with Mr Trump.

“The pronunciation was wrong, he didn’t say it correctly, but at least he tried,” said Ahmed, before encouraging viewers to contact friends and family to vote for Mr Biden.

Prominent writer and composer David Yazbek called on Arab Americans to vote in force.

“Don’t be undecided and get everybody you know to the polls.”

Mr Yazbek also addressed Mr Trump’s suggestions that the election could be rigged and that mail-in voting would be rife with fraud.

“These are desperation plays,” he said.

Fayrouz Saad, a co-founder of Arab Americans for Biden, talked about the origins of the group.

“We came together as a ragtag group with a simple mission, get rid of Donald Trump by electing Joe Biden and empowering Arab Americans.”

Saad said the group worked with the Biden campaign to create a partnership paper about issues of importance to the Arab-American community, such as immigration and civil rights.

Edward Gabriel, a former US ambassador to Morocco and a co-founder of the group, spoke about what he believes will be a special connection to a Biden presidency.

“Since I joined the campaign a year ago, I’ve seen the close attention paid to our community,” he said. “We’re just one email away at all times from the top of this campaign.”

The Arab American Institute Foundation says there are about 3.5 million Arab Americans in the US. While that might seem statistically small compared to the overall population of about 328 million, their vote could prove crucial in swing states such as Michigan, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which have sizeable Arab-American populations.

In recent years, especially following the presidency of George W Bush, the Arab-American vote has trended towards Democrats.

Throughout Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and early into his presidency, he repeatedly antagonised Arab Americans with his “Muslim ban” and comments about Islam.

Despite the controversy, Mr Trump has proved successful at securing some loyal supporters in the Arab-American business community.

Mr Biden, however, has been very active in courting Arab-Americans by holding special events and campaigning in areas where many people with Arab backgrounds live.

Updated: November 2, 2020 10:51 PM

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