A Ron Paul flyer in Arabic produced by campaign volunteers in Dearborn, Mich. (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)
DEARBORN, Mich.--A light snow was falling outside the largest mosque in the country, the Islamic Center of America, as the parking lot filled with worshipers at Friday prayers. Outside, four people passed out flyers in support of Ron Paul, which included Arabic and English translations of Paul's campaign message.
"Ron Paul's Plan to Restore America," the flyer read on the English side, and listed seven of Paul's campaign priorities, including: balancing the budget, cutting spending by $1 trillion in one year, and, of course, auditing the Federal Reserve.
The Arabic-language side, according to a translation provided by Todd Weston, Paul's regional volunteer coordinator for Dearborn, had a slightly different emphasis, including a mention of "these difficult times," and only four priorities--the three above plus an end to foreign wars. (The additional pledges on the English-language side were all domestic: lower taxes, entitlement reform, reduced spending on government employees and deregulation.)
The flyers were the brainchild of Weston, who had the campaign literature translated into Arabic by students at a nearby college. He pitched the plan to the campaign, but ultimately made the flyers himself, he said.
"When I got involved with the Ron Paul campaign, I felt that it was kind of an untapped voter base by the other GOP candidates and even the Democratic candidate, so I really thought it was a great area to pursue especially with Ron Paul's standing with foreign policy and civil liberties," Weston said.
The other Republican presidential candidates have all but ignored Muslim voters in Michigan, which holds its primary on Tuesday. As many Muslims here see it, the rhetoric and proposals of the candidates have repelled even longtime Republicans in their community.
That's one reason why Paul, a candidate who has questioned American aid to Israel and whose non-interventionist foreign policy has gained wide support among Arab voters, received an endorsement Friday from the Arab American News, a Dearborn-based newspaper published in Arabic and English.
"The Arab American News ... sees Dr. Paul's refreshing, forthright foreign policy philosophy as one of his greatest strengths at a time when the specter of a potentially catastrophic war looms over festering, misunderstood and misreported conflicts in the Middle East," the paper's editors wrote on Friday. "His positions are perhaps the best hope for even a remotely balanced policy in the troubled region that we've seen in decades."
Arab Republicans in the Detroit area say they are planning to announce a joint endorsement of Paul with about 150 mostly Muslim business leaders. In interviews with Yahoo News, those signing onto the pending endorsement expressed dismay with candidates like Newt Gingrich, who refers to Palestinians as an "invented people"--Arab Americans here jokingly call Gingrich "the invented candidate"--and Rick Santorum, for his hawkish stance on Iran and his stalwart defense of Israel.
"They've come out against practically every position that the Arabs in the community support," said Nasser Beydoun, the former head of American Arab Chamber of Commerce in Dearborn. "I don't think Republicans are focused on immigrants in general or Arab Americans. They're too busy catering to the fringes of the party."
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