Local Arab-American community responds to Dearborn being listed on FBI's terrorist watch list

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) - “We are not terrorists, whatsoever,” said Saed Nasser. He sums up what many in the local Arab-American community are feeling after learning that Dearborn is the #2 city on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terrorist watch list.

“It’s saying that somewhat, we don’t have our rights anymore because they’re watching us, everything we do,” said Nasser. “They’re in our text messages; they’re in our lives; they’re in our privacy lives; they’re in everything.”

One of the largest concentrations of Arabs outside of the Middle East is in the metropolitan Detroit area. The city of Dearborn is home to many Arabs and Arab-Americans. 

The online news site “The Intercept” published a story on August 5, 2014, revealing Dearborn’s ranking on the terrorist watch list, based on leaked, classified government documents.

Several community leaders held a news conference on Friday morning, outside of Dearborn City Hall, expressing outrage.

“These numbers are totally fabricated, unfounded, unfair and unjust to this community,” said Nabih Ayah, chairman of the Arab-American Civil Rights League. “What this says is that every child, son, daughter, uncle has terrorist ties.”

Yehia Bazzi was born in Lebanon, but has been living in America since 1989. Standing outside of The Princess Bakery on Warren Avenue, near Wyoming, he said Muslims are misunderstood by many people in this country.

“We are peaceful people. We came to this wonderful country; we live here, we work here, we pay taxes here,” said Bazzi. “We support America.”

Abdallah Nahdi moved to the USA from Tanzania in 1999. After 15 years in this country, the Yemen native now considers this home. He does not appreciate the government arbitrarily considering him, and others in his community, to be terrorists. 

“This is my country and I will fight for this country,” said Nahdi. “But, we’re going to correct the system.” 

Arab-American community leaders have sent a letter to Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) asking him to file an inquiry with the U.S. Justice Department about the surveillance of Arab-Americans and American Muslims who live in Dearborn. 

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