Sharona Schwartz, The Blaze, March 2, 2014
A Muslim American group in the Detroit area is trying to combat racism in their community with a campaign urging them to stop using a derogatory Arabic word for African-Americans.
“Drop the A-Word” is asking Arab-Americans to stop using the slur “abed” which means slave or servant, or its plural form “abeed,” when referring to African-Americans. The word has been described in the local media as being used as a sort of Arabic equivalent for the N-word.
“Abed” is not always a negative term. Many Muslim men are named “Abed” which also means servant of God; however, when used as a reference to African-Americans, the positive context is not generally the intent, Muslim civil rights activists have noted.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan chapter (CAIR-MI) called out fellow Muslims on the practice last September.
Walid wrote in The Arab American News about how he was struck during a Facebook discussion when the term “abeed” was used in a thread in reference to a news story about an African American woman.
“Calling a black person a ‘abed’ (abeed in plural) is offensive. The term has been used for so long in certain segments of the Arab World that many people have become desensitized to its meaning,” Walid wrote. “I know that all people do not use the term with overtly malicious intent; however, the word is disturbing, nonetheless.”
Here’s a video report about the campaign from WXYZ in Detroit: