Posted on October 01, 2015 in Press Releases
Contact: Waseem Mardini (202-429-9210)


Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Other Officials Stand Against Bigotry














Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf(center) and (clockwise from left) AAI Community Relations Associate Joan Hanna, AAI National Policy Council Member Jack Hanna, Arab American Community Member Hala Mahran, AAI National Policy Council Member Marwan Kreidie


Harrisburg, PA – September 30, 2015 – The Arab American Institute and the Arab-American Development Corporation of Philadelphia organized a meeting of Arab American leaders with Pennsylvania state officials to discuss the community's concerns.

This day of advocacy focused on the issue of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry. The group discussed their concerns with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Lieutenant Governor Michael Stack, Secretary of State Pedro Cortés, and over 20 members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Both Governor Wolf and Lt. Governor Stack signed AAI’s “Pledge to Combat Bigotry” and have vowed to uphold civil discourse and speak out against those who espouse hateful rhetoric.

"The Pledge to Combat Bigotry takes a strong stand against hate-filled rhetoric that can often lead to fear and division within our communities. Fear and division sow the seeds of mistrust and misunderstanding, and they ultimately threaten the freedoms that all Americans hold so dearly. I signed the pledge to lend my support to fight bigotry through education, communication, and advocacy."

- Lt. Governor Michael Stack

“As an Arab American who is involved in state politics, it is encouraging to know there are elected officials who actively denounce anti-Arab bigotry and Islamophobia. I applaud those who have signed AAI’s Pledge to Combat Bigotry and look to others in the PA General Assembly to engage in a dialogue with our communities, not perpetuate hateful rhetoric or actions under a legal façade.”

- Jack Hanna, Attorney, Indiana, PA, AAI National Policy Council 

The Arab American Institute has been leading the charge to encourage Pennsylvania officials to publicly disavow the use of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry by signing The Pledge to Combat Bigotry. Governor Wolf and Lt. Governor Stack joined numerous other elected officials who have pledged to speak out against bigoted rhetoric. In addition to Governor and Lt. Governor other signatories include: Representatives Dan Frankel, Daniel McNeill, Mark Cohen, Stephen McCarter, James Roebuck, and Peter Schweyer. Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and Philadelphia Mayoral candidate James Kenney have also signed The Pledge to Combat Bigotry.

Arab American leaders from across Pennsylvania also met with Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortés as part of the day of advocacy.

During the meeting they discussed ways in which the Arab American community can work with the Department of State to expand the reach of Pennsylvania’s Online Voter Registration system to minority communities, and discussed other areas of possible collaboration between the Pennsylvania government and immigrant communities.

"As a Puerto Rican living in Pennsylvania for 25 years, I value the role of immigrants that contribute to the prosperity of our Commonwealth.  Such is the case of the growing Arab American community.  My thanks to the Arab American Institute and the Arab American Community Development Corporation for visiting Harrisburg to explore collaborations in the areas of civic engagement, professional licensure and business development."

- Secretary of State Pedro Cortés

The Arab American Advocacy Day in Harrisburg was a success largely because Pennsylvania has public officials like Secretary Cortés who understand the important role that Arab Americans and other ethnic communities play in Pennsylvania.  By engaging in these discussions we are ensuring that our community can fully participate in the democratic process.”

-Nadia Aziz, AAI Government Relations Manager