Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Michigan's Iraqis worried about election

9. January 2005 • Murph
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The Detroit News reports that Michigan’s Chaldean population – a Christian group of Iraqis – is worried about their opportunity to participate in the stateside portion of the Iraqi election, claiming that election sites are skewed towards Muslim Iraqi populations.

Chaldeans, who are Christians, say they number about 120,000 in Metro Detroit—mostly in northern suburbs, including Farmington Hills and West Bloomfield. They say the closest polling places will be in Southfield and Sterling Heights.

Other Iraqis and Iraqi-Americans in the area number only about 15,000, and they live mostly in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights. Despite the significantly smaller numbers, those Iraqis—mostly Shi’a Muslims—will be near two polling places, both in Dearborn, Chaldean leaders say.

“Somebody really messed this up,” said Martin Manna, executive director of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce. “They also are not doing enough outreach on the local level so that people will know how to participate, or even whether they are eligible.”

Chaldeans make up 5% of Iraq’s population, but 80% of the Iraqi population in the United States, and community leaders believe the vote of Chaldeans here is especially important since Chaldeans in Iraq will likely be intimidated away from polling sites.