Detroit’s Fayrouz Saad and Family Recognized by President Obama
On Thursday, July 21st, President Obama hosted his first-ever Eid al-Fitr celebration (which marks the end of Ramadan) at the White House. He was joined by Muslim American leaders from across the country. The President highlighted the many contributions Muslim Americans have made for centuries and continue to make today to our society, helping to “build America as farmers and merchants, factory workers, architects, teachers and community leaders;” Muslim Americans who help keep us safe and defend our freedom.
The President’s words were a powerful reminder that the United States is and always has been a melting pot of ethnicities, origins, cultures, languages, and religions, and that this diversity is what makes us great.
“So let’s be clear: Muslim Americans are as patriotic, as integrated, as American as any other members of the American family. And whether your family has been here for generations or you’re a new arrival, you’re an essential part of the fabric of our country.”
The President shone a bright light on one of those families: Detroit’s own Aref and Aida Saad, immigrants who left their home behind in Lebanon in 1973 and settled in Detroit, and the parents of Fayrouz Saad, the first Director of the City of Detroit Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA). President Obama highlighted the Saad’s economic contributions to metro Detroit through Aref’s entrepreneurship and now thriving business in Detroit’s Eastern Market providing halal meats to Muslim community.
Last October, Mayor Duggan appointed Fayrouz Saad to head the recently-formed MOIA. Fayrouz grew up in Dearborn, a city with a strong history of welcoming immigrants and refugees, and went on Harvard’s Kennedy School where she earned a Master’s in Public Policy. She has worked in Lansing in the State Legislature, as well as at ACCESS, and in Washington D.C. alongside the federal government on issues including immigration reform and economic development in the Arab world. Global Detroit works closely with MOIA, which in its first year has focused on a refugee resettlement plan, developing a municipal ID card (to be implemented soon), and a language access plan for the City (with Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez).
Immigrants come to this country for a better life, for themselves and for their children, and bring with them cultures and traditions that enhance the rich fabric of our country. Many of these children have the same determination and entrepreneurial spirit of their parents, who helped build this country. These new Americans create the Banglatowns and Southwest Detroits of our cities, neighborhoods with unique character and strong community, and children that will help carry us into the future.
We have been inspired by Fayrouz and the City’s efforts, and look forward to continuing to support the work of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.