A Michigan group is calling on Arab-Americans to cease using certain Arabic language words they deems as degrading and insulting to all blacks world-wide, as reported by the Detroit Free Press on Feb. 26, 2014.
The Detroit founders of the “Drop the A-Word” campaign are pleading with Arab-Americans stop using what they consider the Arabic equivalent to those in the English-speaking world of dropping the dreaded N-word.
The campaign organizers ask Arab-Americans to refrain from using both the Arabic words “abed” and “abeed,” citing that both could be translated as Arabic words for what many consider as racial slurs against blacks.
As cited, "'abed' and its plural form 'abeed' mean a 'slave' or 'servant' in the Arabic language" according to the Detroit Free Press.
Dependent on the individual point of view, some may consider the controversy as simply an unfortunate misunderstanding of the translated word.
It's common for Muslims to be given the name "Abeed," within the context of a given name translates to "Servant of God."
With the Detroit suburb of Dearborn having one of the highest concentrations of Arab-Muslims in the United States, the campaign displays a sense of urgency in getting their message to the masses.
Though himself not a member of the group, Dearborn attorney Majed Moughni, supports their goals:
We should stop using ‘abeed’ to describe or reference people of African descent. It’s being used in a racial sense, and that’s derogatory.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations director for the state of Michigan, Dawud Walid, who is black, has taken to social media to urge fellow blacks from using the word in referencing any and all black people, regardless of nationality.
Taking to the microblogging site Twitter, Walid complained "a person of Lebanese descent in Dearborn used the term 'abeed' while he was in earshot."