Anonymous Message Pressures Arab American Voters in Dearborn to Vote for Arab American Candidates in Upcoming Election

Photo: Mario Tama / Getty

DEARBORN, October 29, 2021 ~ As the final days of the Dearborn mayoral and City Council campaigns close, certain candidates are raising concerns that their messages are racially divisive, and pressure voters to vote a certain way.

Mayoral Candidate Gary Woronchak and City Council Candidate Khalil Othman alleged a WhatsApp conversation in Arabic, accusing white Dearborn voters of racism, and urging Arab-Americans to vote for select Arab-descended candidates.

The issue comes after the 2019 census found 47 percent of Dearborn residents are Arab Americans.

Our destiny as Arabs in Dearborn is at stake,” read one message and English translation shared by Othman and Woronchak.

The message was a warning to Arab-American voters, saying that “any vote for a non-Arab American candidate takes the path of the Arab candidates and makes them lose because the rest of the Americans and those like minded racists vote for white candidates only without the Arabs. Also, do not vote or vote with one vote for any of the non-Arab candidates who are of no benefit to us.”

The sender of the message is unknown, as they did not not have any name or organization attached to them.

We categorically reject such blatantly racist tactics,” said Othman in a Facebook post.

After being called an “Uncle Tom” to the Arab-American community over social media, Othman replied, saying “we are standing our ground regardless.”

I remain concerned about the pressure,” said Woronchak. “Pressure on the level of intimidation. An Arab-American friend wanted to meet with me but actually had to wait until dark so we’d be less likely to be seen. Not making this up. Anyone who speaks up against the intimidation, or expresses support for me, are roundly harassed.”

The election marks the first time in 36 years that an incumbent mayor will not be on the Dearborn ballot.