Posted by Hannah Locop on July 19, 2016 in Blog
The Republican National Convention is officially underway in Cleveland, Ohio this week. People from across the country will be pouring into the city for the festivities, and Clevelanders are their welcoming party -- Arab Americans included. Recently, AAI interviewed Michael Faddoul, a local Arab American, small-business owner, and Cleveland Cavaliers fan to get his thoughts on the election and how the RNC impacts his community.
Michael Faddoul is a proud first-generation Lebanese American and Cleveland resident. He is also an ardent basketball fan, describing the RNC as the “cherry on top” of a whirlwind year for his city. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship in June, and Faddoul sees the RNC as an additional point of pride for Clevelanders. Being the host city for the event makes Cleveland the center of attention for the rest of the country, and in Faddoul’s opinion, the RNC allows people to see the positive points of his city in light of the negativity surrounding the election.
In recent years, Cleveland has experienced what Faddoul calls a “Renaissance” – the rise of new apartment complexes, the birth of new businesses, and the restoration of the downtown area. He hopes that the RNC will highlight the growth of his city and bring in more business. Faddoul himself is a small-business owner, managing two Subway locations. Thanks to the RNC, he is looking forward to gaining more costumers and staying busy throughout the week.
While some have warned of potential violence during the RNC, Faddoul admits that he remains optimistic. As a Lebanese Maronite, Faddoul says his faith provides a framework through which he views the election season. According to Faddoul, Cleveland has the second-largest Lebanese Maronite population in the United States, just behind that of the greater Los Angeles area. He considers his faith’s values of respect, dignity and love to be central to his own political views. Though he does not describe himself as “overly political,” Faddoul sees positive aspects in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Rather than being critical of either side, he concentrates on promoting peace and tolerance through a trying election season. In fact, Faddoul attended an interfaith event this past Sunday called “Circle the City with Love,” where Clevelanders of all backgrounds came together on the Hope Memorial Bridge to pray for openness and unity. Faddoul considers the event a warm welcome for visitors and a way to center the community around acceptance of others.
The hope of Arab Americans like Michael Faddoul for peace and togetherness are important voices to remember in the midst of an election season that can sometimes be more troubling than inspiring. Highlighting individuals like Michael not only reminds the country of our diversity, but also of our potential for unity.