Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|U.S. Arabic speakers suddenly in demand|
|09/20/01 at 09:34:49|
This just disgusted me.
Especially this paragraph towards the end:
"If the United States faces a long struggle against terrorism, a steady supply of Arabic speakers might be an essential part of national defense. "
the parts that I cut out [...] were just about this American professor of Arabic.
From MSNBC, Thursday Sept 20
ON MONDAY, FBI director Robert Mueller asked U.S. citizens who are fluent in Arabic, Farsi, which is spoken in Iran, and Pashto, the language of about a third of Afghans, to enlist as contract linguists.
“The Arabic-American community and others immediately overwhelmed our telephone switchboard.” Mueller said Tuesday.
In order to be hired as a temporary FBI contract linguist, applicants must:
Be United States citizens.
Have resided within the United States for at least three out of the last five years.
Pass a proficiency test, a polygraph examination, and a 10-year background investigation.
Applicants who have dual citizenship with the United States and another country must also be willing to renounce their citizenship with the foreign country. Those interested can apply at the FBI's job web site.
Iskander, a Southfield, Mich., middle school teacher who immigrated to the United States from Iraq 23 years ago, told MSNBC.com Tuesday she had tried calling the FBI all day and kept getting a busy signal, but was going to use the bureau’s Web site instead to offer her Arabic skills.
“It is our duty to keep this country safe,” Iskander said. “I was so depressed for the last five days and not able to sleep.” Working as a translator, she said, would give her the feeling she was contributing in some way.
She said if the translation duties were in Washington, she might only be able to get away from her job for a week or two, but said that during the 1991 Persian Gulf War she worked from her Michigan home for a federal agency — she can’t recall which one — monitoring tapes of Arab-language broadcasts that had aired on WCAR, a Livonia, Mich., radio station.
Iskander lives in an area — southeastern Michigan — that has one of the highest concentrations of Arab-Americans in the United States. Her congressman, Rep. John Dingell, urged his constituents Monday to sign up for duty as FBI linguists.
“I want our Arabic speaking neighbors to know their services are desperately needed,” he said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for ordinary citizens to contribute to the effort to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the heinous attacks against the United States.”
“We are citizens of this country. It’s one of our civic duties to take part in this,” said Nouhad El-Hajj, the publisher of the Arab-American Journal, a Dearborn, Mich.-based bilingual newspaper with a circulation of 20,000. “We’re going to be saving lives and serving our community.”
SMALL PERCENTAGE OF IMMIGRANTS
According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, about five million foreigners became naturalized U.S. citizens from 1990 through 1999, the last year for which the INS has released data.
Of those, approximately 130,000 came from Arab-speaking countries such as Egypt, Syria and Algeria. There are thousands of other immigrants who arrived before 1990 who are proficient in Arabic.
These people are all the more important because there are very few non-Arab-American U.S. citizens who speak Arabic.
‘You’re going to have a pathetically low number of non-Arab-Americans who could be helpful, certainly not more than a couple of hundred.’
Among non-Arab Americans the level of proficiency needed to help an investigation or do intelligence work is “really rare,” Belnap said. As in the case of his former student who’s now in Washington, some of those with adequate Arabic skills are already working for the Defense Department, the CIA or some other federal agency.
If the United States faces a long struggle against terrorism, a steady supply of Arabic speakers might be an essential part of national defense.
If, as President Bush has said, the United States faces a long struggle against terrorism, a steadily increasing supply of Arabic speakers might be an essential element of national defense.
For now, Belnap said, “our best bet is working with patriotic Arab-Americans,” and, he added, referring to incidents of vigilante violence against Arab-American in the past week “ironically, these are the very people that are being harassed.”
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