By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber had the rare opportunity to attend and experience President Barak Obama’s final State of the Union address.
Jaber was invited to the address in Washington, D.C., as a guest of U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), a longtime time friend and peer.
“I received a call the day after New Year’s from Senator Peters inviting me to the State of the Union address,” Jaber said. “We have worked together on many immigration and refugee issues.”
On Jan. 12, Jaber and Peters conducted seven hours of interviews regarding immigrants and refugees in the United States and overseas.
Shortly after, the two attend the dinner at The Capitol for senators and their guests, where Jaber was able to speak to several senators about Arab-Americans.
“It was great to spend time talking with about 25 senators about the work we do at ACCESS and how welcoming Michigan is as a state for everyone,” Jaber said.
Finally, it was time to head to Obama’s final State of the Union address.
“Being in the room and hearing the speech from the president was very powerful and historical for me,” Jaber said. “I appreciate how clear and direct Obama was about the important issues, including Muslims.”
During his address, Obama address terrorism and Muslims, stating that targeting the religion diminishes America in the eyes of the world.
“Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people?” Obama said. “Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?”
Jaber said he was grateful for Obama’s stance.
“I want to thank President Obama for pushing back against those using hate speech and going too far to promote terrorism,” he said. “Also, for standing up for Muslims, refugees and all minorities.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)