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THE NATION

Arab Americans Hail Dean Attack on Conservatives

October 19, 2003|From Reuters

DEARBORN, Mich. — Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean received a standing ovation from an Arab American audience Saturday when he attacked leading conservatives and figures from the religious right.

Dean, one of seven Democratic presidential candidates to address the Arab American Institute's national leadership conference, pointed to an American flag and named some of the people he said it did not belong to.

"It does not belong to Gen. Boykin, or John Ashcroft, or Rush Limbaugh or Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson," the former Vermont governor said to cheers in the packed hotel conference room in the Detroit suburb, which is home to one of the highest concentrations of Muslims and Arabs outside of the Middle East.

"This flag belongs to every single American, including every single American in this room, and is the hope and aspiration for many other folks who are not yet citizens," he said.

The message was warmly received by the crowd of about 300 as Dean named Ashcroft, the U.S. attorney general and a prominent spokesmen for America's conservative or religious right, along with Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin, the senior Pentagon intelligence official who has told Christian gatherings that Muslims worship an "idol."

His speech was repeatedly interrupted by applause as he condemned what he said were violations of civil liberties, racial profiling and abuse of authority under the USA Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism legislation championed by Ashcroft that was approved after the Sept. 11 attacks.

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