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Biden condemns anti-Arab hate as WSJ opinion piece calls Dearborn ‘jihad capital’

President Joe Biden has criticized anti-Arab rhetoric in response to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece targeting Dearborn, Michigan. The article, titled “Welcome to Dearborn, America’s Jihad Capital,” suggested that the city supports the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and extremism. The mayor of Dearborn, Abdullah Hammoud, described the piece as “bigoted” and “Islamophobic.” The president, without directly referencing the WSJ or the article’s author, expressed on social media that blaming a group of people based on the words of a few can lead to Islamophobia and anti-Arab hate. Dearborn, with about 110,000 residents, has one of the highest percentages of Arab Americans among U.S. cities.

Biden’s comments come as the article drew outrage from various quarters, including U.S. lawmakers, rights advocates, and local leaders. Dearborn Mayor Hammoud increased the city’s police presence at houses of worship and public places due to a perceived rise in online Islamophobic rhetoric targeting the city. Despite this, there have been no reports of unrest in the suburb, which borders Detroit.

The opinion piece, written by Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, has been labeled as “reckless,” “bigoted,” and “Islamophobic” by Hammoud. President Biden, who is running for re-election, has faced criticism for his administration’s support for Israel in its operations in Gaza.

The Wall Street Journal did not respond to a request for comment. Stalinsky stood by his piece, citing videos compiled by his institute as evidence of anti-U.S. and pro-jihad sentiments in Dearborn. However, the location and date of the videos could not be independently verified by Reuters.

As tensions rise amid the Middle East conflict, incidents of Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian bias, and antisemitism in the U.S. have garnered increased attention. Several Democratic members of Congress, including Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna and Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, condemned the WSJ opinion piece, with Jayapal calling for an apology from the newspaper.

The recent escalation of the Middle East conflict began on October 7 when Hamas attacked Israel, resulting in subsequent Israeli assaults on Gaza. The conflict has led to significant casualties and displacement, with concerns about the humanitarian situation in the region.

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