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NYC Mayor Bloomberg appoints US Palestinian to head immigration office
Published Friday 14/08/2009 (updated) 17/08/2009 19:26
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Bethlehem – Ma'an – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has appointed a Palestinian-American to head his immigrants affairs office, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Fatima Shama was previously the mayor's senior education policy advisor, the paper said.

"Fatima was at the forefront of our efforts... to raise standards in the classroom, and to increase parental engagement, especially among immigrant parents," Bloomberg said in a statement.

Shama is fluent in Arabic, Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish, and speaks some Italian.

"For generations immigrants have come in search of a better life. Looking for work. Successfully integrating into our society. And making this city and country that much better," Shama told Channel One (NY1).

"The mayor has been a champion for immigrant voices that built this city, and I look forward to ensuring that every immigrant feels at home in our city," she added.

The appointment of Shama, who originally joined Bloomberg's administration in 2006, was thought to mark the first time an Arab Muslim had held the post.

The city's Muslim community applauded the mayor's decision. Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York told WNYC Radio she expected Shama to push for Muslim holidays in public schools, a proposal Bloomberg has opposed.

Shama replaces Guillermo Linares, who stepped down in July for a top spot on Bloomberg's reelection campaign. Linares was also expected to run for a City Council position representing northern Manhattan.

Shama was born in the city's Bronx borough to a Brazilian mother and Palestinian father. Her father's side of the family is from the Ramallah-area village of Deir Dibwan, which she visited for the first time 14 years ago.

Although she has spent some time on holiday in her banker husband's native Syria, Shama told Al-Arabiyya that her home is in New York City, where she lives with her two sons.
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1 ) Amouna / Nablus, Palestine
15/08/2009 00:43
If she doesnt consider Palestine her home,then im not proud of her 4 this. What good does it do 2 Pal when she doesnt even consider her native country as home? I consider that every Palestinian has 2 represent Palestine in a good way & someone that doesnt consider Pal to be her home obviously isent.

2 ) zazu / us of a
15/08/2009 03:48
How is she Palestinian-American if her mother was Brazilian?

3 ) to zazu / also us of a
15/08/2009 03:51
Because her father was Palestinian, and she's an American citizen. Should Ma'an have written American-Palestinian-Brazilian in its headline? Cause that's kind of long.

4 ) Amouna / Nablus, Palestine
15/08/2009 21:07
Zazu, Palestinians arent jews, it is the identity of the father that is passed on to the children (or supposed to be), not the mother as in the case of jews. This is the Islamic/Arabic norm and it is actually so even among non-muslims. As for American, they called her that cuz she lives in the USA.
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