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Shortly after the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, a number of dedicated community members founded the Arab American Community Coalition (AACC). Initially, the AACC was formed to combat the rampant hate crimes and malicious harassment that were occurring against Arab and Muslim Americans. As a result, the AACC set up a 24-hour Arab hotline with English and Arabic speakers and began to educate the community.

Soon the AACC began to take on much more, as the hate crimes turned to government harassment. When the FBI began interviewing Arab and Muslim men, the AACC was there to make sure that these men's rights were protected. Similarly, the Arab American Community Coalition set up workshops to educate the Arab community of their rights as residents in the US. As individuals were picked up for deportation either due to the Absconder Initiative, Special Registration or a number of other Executive Orders or government actions, the AACC found lawyers for these individuals and raised money for their legal funds. The most famous of these cases was the Hamouis, the local Syrian family that was incarcerated for nine months at the local immigration detention center. The AACC located an attorney for the family, initiated the weekly protests in front of the detention center, raised thousands of dollars and continues to support the family.

But more than just working with the Arab and Muslim communities, the AACC began outreaching to other communities, in particular communities of color. The Japanese American community who's story of internment after Pearl Harbor is surprisingly similar was one of the first communities to step forward and work with the Arab community and continues to be are strongest ally. We have also worked with numerous other groups and organizations to combat the USA PATRIOT Act, protest the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, pass Bill of Rights Resolutions throughout Washington State, and hold educational events amongst much more. The Arab American Community Coalition believes there is power in numbers and in a unified voice. Similarly, the AACC also outreached to local elected officials to make the Arab community's voice heard.

The AACC soon learned that people knew very little about Arab, Muslim, and Arab American cultures and started a Speaker's Bureau. Speakers talk about Arab and Muslim cultures and civil rights abuses against the Arab and Muslim communities. The AACC has spoken at rallies, schools, teacher trainings, on panels, cultural competence trainings for police departments, and much much more.

To this day, the Arab American Community Coalition is run entirely by volunteers, committed hard working and often overworked members from the Arab community. And nearly four years later, the AACC is still working tirelessly for all people's civil rights receiving phone calls and requests from across the United States and even Canada. Unfortunately, discrimination against Arab and Muslim Americans has only just begun with the need for a civil rights organization dedicated to and focused on the Arab and Muslim communities strong. The Arab American Community Coalition is going to be around for quite some time.



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