ADC Marks the 44th Anniversary of ABSCAM

Washington, DC | | February 2, 2024 – Today, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) marks the 44th anniversary of the public disclosure of ABSCAM, an FBI sting operation that sowed the seeds for the creation of our organization. In this context, the late Senator James Abourezk founded the ADC, motivated by a lifelong commitment to justice and equality, to combat the systemic discrimination and defamation facing the Arab-American community. Since our inception, we have worked tirelessly to challenge misconceptions, advocate for civil rights, and promote a balanced and fair portrayal of Arab people and culture.ABSCAM involved FBI agents posing as representatives of Abdul Enterprises, Ltd., a fictitious company purportedly owned by an Arab sheik. These agents offered bribes to various public officials, including six representatives and one senator, in exchange for political favors. The operation, which came to light on February 2, 1980, revealed the FBI’s use of anti-Arab stereotypes in its undercover investigation, igniting a crucial conversation about the portrayal and treatment of Arab individuals and communities in the United States.The operation resulted in the conviction of several officials for bribery and corruption. However, the portrayal of Arabs as wealthy, corrupting influences in this sting operation cast a long shadow, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and contributing to a climate of suspicion and prejudice against Arab Americans and the broader Arab world.As we mark this anniversary, the ADC renews its commitment to fighting against all forms of discrimination and stereotyping. Our efforts continue to ensure that Arab Americans are represented accurately and justly, fostering a society where diversity is celebrated, and all communities are treated with respect and dignity.ADC Executive Director Abed Ayoub stated, “We remember ABSCAM as a pivotal point that underscored the urgent need for advocacy against anti-Arab bias. While we reflect on the progress made, we also acknowledge the challenges that remain. Our work is far from over, and we remain dedicated to advancing the rights and representation of Arab Americans and opposing any efforts that seek to marginalize our community.”

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