13th Annual Arab American Festival
By Sara Qamar and Adil James
Dearbornâ€“June 15â€“ It seemed that all of Schaefer Avenue was lit up and bustling with activity Friday night on the opening day of the 12th Annual National Arab Festival, put on by an array of hosts and corporate sponsors.
The festival, which consisted of a carnival, live performances and bazaar was co-hosted by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, ACCESS, the Lebanese American Heritage Club and the city of Dearborn, in partnership with Ford Motor Company. The prominent sponsors of the festival included such high-profile corporations as CALNET, Comerica, DaimlerChrysler and the Michigan Lottery.
Upon entering, festival-goers were greeted with a topsy-turvy assortment of carnival rides and games. As the biggest Arab festival in the country, people from all over the Midwest and Canada came to check it out.
As usual, 12 blocks of Warren Ave. were blocked off for 3 days to make room for about 25 amusement-park rides, a covered bazaar area, a raised stage on which musical performers provided entertainment, and stalls at which various kinds of Middle Eastern and American food could be bought. Thousands of people filled the streets on Saturdayâ€”so much so that the wait for the various rides (including among many others bumper cars, roller coasters, and a ferris wheel) was comparable to that at famous mainstream amusement parks like Cedar Point. On Sunday, fewer people came to Dearborn. Still, there was a 5 to 10 minute wait for most rides and there was plenty of company for those who had made the trip. People stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the covered bazaar areaâ€”filled with all kinds of vendors who seemed very happy for having made the investment in renting their booths.
Attendance at the event, of course, was free. Rides cost from $2 to $4 each, with day passes available for $20 per child. All told there may have been as many as 10,000 people at the festival–which represents the single best carnival event in likely the entire Western world for Muslim families to enjoy a carnival atmosphere where they can feel comfortable wearing Islamic clothing.
The event was founded thirteen years ago by the Arab American Chamber of Commerce in association with other organizations, most notably ACCESS, which was also well-represented by senior staff members at the carnival.
Girlsâ€™ Graduation Ceremony, IIK
Dearborn–June 14–The Islamic Institute of Knowledge Graduated another group of young girls from its leadership training program this past Thursday at IIK.
Present were about 150 people including the girls, many of their sisters, mothers, and several IIK staff members and prominent people including of course Hajja Khalida Beydoun and Imam Abdul Latif Berry.
Ms. Beydoun graciously spoke, thanking all of those in attendance, especially those guests who had come from outside of the mosque to visit and show support for the program. Imam Berry also spoke briefly, focusing on the importance of the unity of the Muslim community and resisting the impulse to divide into sects, and also praising Hajja Khalida and the girls for their work during the leadership course.
Hajja Khalida emphasized in a brief speech the vital importance of seeking knowledge as a means of worshipping God and of protecting oneâ€™s faith. She told very inspirational stories of how the girls were now taking on leadership in the community by building the faith of those they knew and of their learning of many good characteristics during the course, and of how many of the girls are actually now helping Hajja Khalida and the IIK with a mosque publication.
There was an award ceremony where each girl received a certificate for completing the class, and a competition where the girls answered religious questions in exchange for prizes.
This was another very good event of the IIK, showing the good work it is doing in the community and taking an opportunity also to spread happiness among the girls who completed the leadership class.