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Democrats Pick Rashida Tlaib as Coordinator to Reach Arab Voters

posted on: Aug 31, 2008

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Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has chosen a Detroit attorney to coordinate outreach to Michigan’s Arab-American and American-Muslim communities.

Rashida Tlaib, 32, who was elected earlier this month as the Democratic candidate for state representative of southwest Detroit, will be in charge of mobilizing the state’s Middle Eastern and Muslim population. Michigan has the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States, according to U.S. Census figures.

“We are very excited to have Rashida Tlaib on board, and she has already proven herself an invaluable asset as we continue to reach out to Michigan’s vibrant Arab community,” Obama’s Michigan State Director Amy Chapman said in a statement. “Barack Obama is committed to working with people from all communities and bringing them into his campaign for change, and Rashida’s work will be an important part of those efforts here in Michigan.”

Tlaib has worked as a senior policy adviser for state Rep. Steve Tobocman, D-Detroit.

Arab Americans and Muslims had several events at last week’s Democratic National Convention, including the first ever American Muslim Democratic Caucus.

Imam Mohammed Mardini of Dearborn was one of four religious figures to deliver an invocation at an interfaith gathering that kicked off the convention.

At a gathering Thursday night at La Cigale restaurant in east Dearborn, about 50 Arab Americans and others gathered to hear Obama’s speech as he accepted the Democratic nomination.

Hannan Haydan, 31, of Livonia, a Republican, said: “It was very touching. You get a sense the people come first to him. His story is really what this country is all about — the land of opportunity.”

But Haydan and her husband remain undecided in the presidential race in November.

Obama’s campaign earlier had chosen attorney Mazen Asbahi, a native of Northville, to be its national outreach coordinator for Arab Americans and Muslims. But he resigned this month after a Web site linked him to extremist groups.

Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press

Picture caption:
Rashida Tlaib has worked as a senior policy adviser for state Rep. Steve Tobocman.