Disturbing claims have emerged of attempts to exclude Arab Christians from top federal jobs when President Obama was first elected.
In a Wiki-leaked email it is reported that New York attorney Preeta D. Bansal, who had served in the Clinton Administration in the 1990s, compiled a list of Muslim Americans to be considered for top government posts by the Obama transition team. The email,which clearly suggests she had been specifically instructed to exclude Arab Christians, states:
“Here are the compiled lists of Asian American and Muslim American candidates for top Administration jobs, sub-cabinet jobs, and outside boards/agencies/policy committees. A couple things to note about the list of Muslim American candidates: In the candidates for top jobs, I excluded those with some Arab American background but who are not Muslim (e.g., George Mitchell). Many Lebanese Americans, for example, are Christian [BF emphasis]. In the last list (of outside boards/commissions), most who are listed appear to be Muslim American, except that a handful (where noted) may be Arab American but of uncertain religion (esp. Christian).”
Arab Christian leaders in the USA have strongly condemned the policy, indicating that the email supported their suspicions that the Obama administration had specifically excluded Arab Christians from public appointments – because they were not Muslims.
John Hajjar, co-chair of the Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC) said:“We always felt the cold shoulder of the Democratic Party establishment in the past eight years … This discriminatory email is un-American, libelous and should cause the author and those who conspired against Arab Christians to be held accountable.”
David Lazar of the American Mesopotamian Organization and the Restore Nineveh Now Foundation said: “American citizens of Middle East Christian descent fled their ancestral homelands after decades of intolerance and apartheid-like policies of dictatorial and theocratic regimes with the hope that they and their children will have a better life here in the USA, only to face similar discrimination at the hands of the Democratic Party establishment.”
Sami Khoury, President of the World Maronite Union said: “This treatment of Middle East Christians is discriminatory … We never heard of such civil rights discrimination since decades.”
A number of Muslim leaders have also condemned the policy implied by the leaked emails. Imam Mohamed el Haj Hasan from Detroit said: “We are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from Arab and Mideast Christian communities who have been sidelined from obtaining federal jobs in the Obama Administration. As Muslims we stand for justice and refuse to see our government discriminate against any sect.”
Dr Ashley Ansara from Orlando said: “We are horrified that the Obama–Clinton Administration practiced discrimination against our brothers and sisters from the Arab Christian communities. As Arab Muslims in America we consider this breach against civil rights as a type of Apartheid that has no place in America.”
Sam Yono, a Chaldean American Christian leader, in Detroit, sums it up: “Many of our people came to the United States fleeing genocide and persecution and seeking freedom, [only] to find ourselves discriminated against because we are Christians and by the highest power in the Land. What a shame!”