Washington, DC | October 2, 2009 | www.adc.org | Today, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) mourns the loss of Rana Siam, Esq., who passed away last night at the young age of 36, in Houston after a brave battle with cancer.
Rana was a friend, an advocate, and volunteer attorney who helped ADC not only in fighting discrimination, but through promoting our rich Arab heritage. She played an important role, through her pro-bono advocacy work in helping discrimination victims in Texas and around the country.
In several instances, Rana went beyond the call of duty as a pro-bono attorney to help those in dire need. In 2006, she voluntarily flew to South Texas, at her own expense, for several school board disciplinary hearings in support of a family who suffered from discrimination after a high school teacher introduced out-of-context sexually explicit defamatory statements from a novel putting Muslims and Arabs in a negative light, compelling a fourteen-year old Arab Muslim student to read the statements publicly to his classmates, and ultimately subjecting the student to ridicule and harassment. Rana’s quick and compassionate response to this situation helped protect the student’s civil rights and at the same time offered constructive educational programs to the school district on religious and national origin discrimination to foster an atmosphere of understanding and tolerance.
Siam’s work did not stop at advocacy and the legal field. Her dedication to the rich Arab heritage and culture was evident through her humanitarian work, educational work and the promotion of the arts and culture in Texas. Rana was known for her impeccable drive in coordinating a three-day eight venue food/clothing drive which yielded a 26-foot moving truck of humanitarian aid for the people of Lebanon during the 2006 war in coordination with the United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors. She was also known for hosting a children’s dance troupe from a refugee camp near Bethlehem in Palestine; and her devoted volunteer work in organizing and speaking at community forums to educate local citizens on civil rights issues, such as the PATRIOT Act, and political issues affecting conflicts in the Middle East and their impact on the community in Texas.
ADC National Executive Director Kareem Shora said, “The ADC family offers its deepest condolences to Rana’s family and friends on the passing of a young star. Rana was a dedicated and caring advocate and attorney who spent so much of her young life giving a voice to those with no voice and caring support to those most in need; in their time of most need. May God rest her soul and reward her for all the good she did in life.“
ADC’s Austin Chapter President, Samer Chaban said, “I met Rana at the ADC convention in 2003. She had just moved to Austin. She immediately asked how she could as an attorney help our chapter and the community. A colleague on the ADC chapter board, Rana took time out of her busy career as a partner in a prestigeous law firm to advise and defend victims of education and employment discrimination throughout Texas. She was also instrumental in managing several community activities and humanitarian drives for refugees and victims of war in Palestine and Lebanon. Above all, Rana was a best friend and a sister. She will be missed by everyone who was fortunate to have known her. May God bless her soul. Our prayers are with her family and friends.”