American Arab Chamber of Commerce Illinois fights for business rights
The American Arab Chamber of Commerce of Illinois which is at the forefront of fighting for the rights of Arab American and Muslim American business owners expanded and consolidated its board this week.
The board consists of Trustees who have an equal voice in defining the Chamber’ emission moving forward, and an honorary board of notable business people and advisors who offer support.
The American Arab Chamber of Commerce of Illinois has, just in the past year, put a spotlight on the recent discriminatory practices by the City of Chicago against Arab, Asian and Muslim store owners. During the past six months, the City of Chicago under the direction of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, has ordered closed more than 100 small businesses in a misguided attempt to impact the city’s skyrocketing street gang violence. Lightfoot asserts that the small businesses, most operating 24 Hours per day, become oasis for the gangbangers during late evening hours.
As a consequence, Lightfoot created a Special Task Force to issue code violations as a pretext to force the stores closed. In the past, code violations would be issued and the store owners would be given time to correct the alleged infractions. Under Lightfoot’s policies, the city is seeking to close the stores first and to keep them closed.
“We have taken action to stand up to Mayor Lightfoot’s unjust policies targeting Arab, Asian and Muslimstore owners,” said American Arab Chamber CEO Hassan Nijem.
“Our goal was to bring this issue to light and publicize it to expose what the city was doing and we feel we have been successful, making Mayor Lightfoot and the Special Task Force of Police and Inspectors accountable for these injustices. We are demanding the city treat our store owners fairly and that the city not close any business on allegations of code violations but to instead give the store owners the opportunity to correct any code infractions.”
Nijem noted that the campaign not only results in the closure of nearly 100 businesses, but also would result in nearly 800 people losing their jobs in the City of Chicago. Additionally, the closure of the stores results in the loss of millions of dollars in tax revenues andsales taxes to the city, Cook County and the State of Illinois.
“There is no reason to close these business and we will not stand for it,” said Nijem, who was the only person to respond to call for help from he businesses.
The American Arab Chamber of Commerce is also working closely with state, county and city officials to assist businesses.
Last month, Nijem partnered with Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas to help American Arabs to identify property tax overpayments. Pappas and her team have visited several locations in the American Arab community with the help of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce to assist in the process of applying for and receiving the refunds on property tax overpayments.
One event was held at the Orland Park Prayer Center. So far, the total amount of overpayments slated for refunds to the Arab and Muslim property tax owners is over $200,000.
“And this number continues to grow,” Nijem said. “County Treasurer Pappas is concerned and dedicated to ensuring that everyone in Cook County is treated fairly and equally and that they only pay the amount of taxes necessary, not overpayments. These overpayments are being returned thanks to Maria Pappas and the help of her team.”
Nijem was named by Pappas as an Honorary Cook County Treasurer to help with the American Arab and Muslim community.
Last year, the American Arab Chamber was instrumental in saving 22 Arab and Muslim owned Hookah Lounges that would have been forced to close with the adoption of a proposed law that would have made the sale of Flavored Tobacco illegal in the city.
“The purpose of the ordinance, the new law, was to prevent the sale of flavored tobacco to minors and to prevent flavored tobacco from being used to lure young children and teenagers into smoking and using smoking products,” Nijem explained.
“After we met with the Aldermen, including 23rd Ward Alderwoman Silvana Tabares, we were able to help the City Council understand that the law was too broad and would have resulted int he closure of 22 Arab and Muslim owned businesses.”
Nijem said that the City Council, working with the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, adjusted the ordinance to permit the legal use of flavored tobacco in Hookah Lounges, which only cater to patrons who are 21 years of age or older. Had the businesses been forced to close, Nijem noted, more than 250 people would have lost their jobs in the city.
If you are an Arab, Asian or Muslim business and you are tired of being ignored and pandered to by individuals trying to exploit your suffering and want to defend your businesses, contact the American Arab Chamber of Commerce today by calling 312-927-6971 or visit the Chamber’s website at www.AACCUSA.org.
“Our community is tired of people using them for their own personal benefit and not providing any service or any help. The American Arab Chamber of Commerce is dedicated for standing in the front line and making government accountable and protecting the interests and hard work of Arab, Asian and Muslim business owners. We don’t just hold lunches and inners to pat ourselves not he back. We fight with Actionf or our members,” Nijem said.