Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Blog

By Johara Hall

2012 Summer Intern

Gus Mansour, a longtime Democrat and an active Obama campaigner, will be attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this fall along with fellow Washingtonians Devon Abdallah and Majid Al-Bahadli. Mansour’s aspirations to become a delegate stem from his love for community and from President Obama’s campaign for change. “I really care about my community. I love President Obama and I know his heart is in the right place. Although I understand a lot of things have not been achieved as we Arab Americans were hoping for in the past four years, I know the President has the right intentions.”

Mansour’s interest in politics began from a young age. “Since I was little, I always read the paper and gained interest in political figures, particularly Gamel Abdel Nasser. I took a lot of interest in Nasser’s life-long struggle to unify the Arab world and I would call myself a Nasserist.” He graduated from high school in Lebanon and attended the American University of Cairo for two years prior to moving to the U.S. in 1978 where he then attended North Seattle Community College and received an Associate of Arts degree after “taking every political science course offered”.

Mansour also considers himself a humanist, saying, “It doesn’t matter who the oppressed person is, I will campaign for the right cause. It is something in my blood. When it comes to human suffering I am always on the side of those who are wronged. I am a compassionate, loving person.”

Given his outlook, Mansour did not hesitate to become an active member of Washington’s Arab American Community Coalition (AACC) upon its creation. His contribution to the organization is in the form of public outreach. “I mainly started defending Arab Americans by speaking and educating people within our community. I gave several speeches at universities and spoke to the armed forces – educating people about Arab Americans, Muslim and Christian, as well as educating them about our causes.”

Mansour’s close ties to Seattle’s Arab American community are further highlighted through his advocacy work.  His efforts helped free Arabs held in detention by the FBI, including Afouh El Hamaoui, an Arab immigrant who was wrongfully arrested. After eight months of demonstrations, the hiring of a lawyer, and “very hard work” on behalf of members of the AACC like Mansour, El Hamaoui was freed. “Today, he is an American citizen and we are very proud of our community’s successful efforts to free an innocent man.”

Mansour has also been involved in the Arab-Israeli peace process for twenty-five years and cares “deeply about the Palestinian issue.” While he has been working hard on the Palestinian cause, he insists, “This does not mean I don’t care for previous Israeli suffering. I truly empathize with Jews who have suffered over the years. However, it does not give them the right to treat another people the way they have been treated…I am not an appeaser, but one needs to understand the difference between bashing people and speaking out of love.”

“I, like many other Arab Americans, do not want the destruction of Israel. I’d love to see them in a peaceful situation–absolute peace that can allow Palestinians to integrate back into the land that was previously their own.  I believe Israel has the right to have a state; it is only fair that they have a state, and I say this strongly. But, Israel should give Palestinians the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, and pay for all the displaced Palestinian refugees.”

Like several of his fellow Arab American political activists, Mansour advises Arab Americans “to run for political office.  We must be an example for the younger generations and for other communities. Our running for political positions should be driven by our love for humanity and the hope to unite people towards good. The ultimate goal is to do good.”

Mansour believes the Arab American Institute helps achieve this goal, saying, “I am very proud of the work that the Arab American Institute has been doing to unite our voices. Uniting our [Arab American] organizations is the key to changing U.S. policy and that is something we need to work on. Building coalitions with civil rights organizations such as the ADC and political organizations such as AAI is the only way to make our voice stronger and more powerful.”

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