How many Arab American voters live in Chicagoland?
By Ray Hanania
There are approximately 180,000 Arab Americans living in the Six County Region around Cook County. About one-third live in Chicago, one-third live in Southwest Suburban Cook County, and the remainder of one-third are spread throughout the remaining counties. It is estimated that there are between 250,000 and 400,000 in the State of Illinois. This could be true as there is a large Arab population in and around Peoria and Central Illinois.
While the US Census does not provide an accurate mechanism to identify and count Arab Americans, the numbers we have provided are based on a careful review of Voter Registration Statistics for Chicagoland and the State of Illinois, which is explained below.
The data below reflects Arab population estimates and data for a targeted group of suburban communities and does not reflect the entire region.
Southwest Arab Population:
This community stretches in one large swatch from 63rd and Western to 171st and LaGrange Road, cutting through the Southwest Side of Chicago west on 63rd and 79th Streets, then south on Harlem Avenue through Burbank, Worth, Bridgeview and the Palos Region, to Orland and Tinley Park.
Although the perception is that the community is concentrated in Bridgeview, that is not accurate. There is a very concentrated warren of Arab Americans in Bridgeview around the Mosque on 92nd Place west of Harlem Avenue.
The largest concentration of Arab Americans actually sits in Burbank, Palos Hills, Orland Park and Orland Hills as the chart on the right demonstrates.
The Arabs in this swatch of migration are mostly Palestinian, and also mostly Muslim. The Muslim Palestinians originate mostly from a city called Beitunia, just Northwest of Jerusalem in Palestine. The second largest group in this concentration are Jordanian Arabs, mostly Christian.
Mixed in, of course, are others.
The largest concentration of Arabs on the Northwest Side/Suburbs are Christian Palestinians from a city that is the sister city to Beitunia, called Ramallah, also in Palestine located northwest of Jerusalem next to Beitunia.
The next largest group of Arabs are Lebanese Americans who live throughout the region and in the Northwest and far west suburbs.
It’s important to note that Arabs are both Christian and Muslim, and that Muslims recognize the same prophets of the Christian Bible and the Jewish Torah. There are more than two dozen Muslim Mosques (similar to churches) in the region. Muslims are not only Arabs but also Pakistanis, Indians, Russians, and other national origins. Most Christian Arabs are either Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran. (Most Egyptian Christians are Coptic Orthodox.)
The analysis of targeted communities:
Voter turnout data provided by the Arab American Institute shows the number of registered Arab Americans in the Southwest suburbs has increased dramatically.
While the community has remained on the outside of traditional political circles in past elections, has now engaged the election process as a partner.
Already, American politicians, elected officials and candidates for public office are declaring their support for several Arab American candidates recognizing the growing importance of the Arab American community.
An analysis of the actual listings of registered Arab Americans shows that there are as many as 10,465 Arab Americans in 25 targeted suburban communities, and nearly 25,000 in Chicago.
These numbers allow us to also evaluate how many Arab American residents there really are in Chicago and the suburbs. With voter registration hovering around only 22 percent of the Arab American community, we can adjust those voter registration numbers to get a real glimpse at how many actual Arab Americans (with citizenship) we have in the suburbs and in Chicago.
In Chicago, for example, adjusting the numbers (as explained below) would result in a community of 112,636 actual Arab Americans.
In the targeted 25 suburban communities, the voter registration numbers translate into 47,568 actual Arab Americans in those communities.
Not included in this calculations are Arab Americans in more than 100 other suburban communities and regions in Illinois.
“We can say with certainty, though, that there are about 180,000 Arab Americans in the Six County region including Cook County, and about 250,000 in Northern Illinois.
Sub-Cook ….. 47,568
Chicago …… 112,636
Total ……….. 160,204
(in 26 targeted
suburbs & Chicago)
Breakdown of voter calculations
The Chart on this page shows the actual number of registered Arab Americans in 26 communities including Chicago.
The data is extracted from a database provided by the Arab American Institute which used a computer program to identify potential Arab American surnames.
The Arab Americans View individually reviewed each registered voter listing by surname for each of the 26 communities and deleted those that were not of Arab or Muslim background.
“I think the numbers are a close reflection of our real strength but I would say the chart only reflects 75 percent of the real Arab American vote,” said Arab American View publisher Ray Hanania.
Hanania explained that there were many names not included in the list provided by the AAI that are Arab American. It also cannot identify those Arab Americans who have inter-married and who have non-Arab surnames or American surnames.
“How do you count them?” Hanania asked. “In our mailing list of some 2,600 people, I would say about 10 percent of the mailing list consists of Arab Americans with American last names.”
The analysis shows that there are a total of:
Southwest …. 4,408
West ………….. 2,282
North ………… 922
Sub-Cook ….. 7,612
Chicago …… 18,023
Total ………… 25,635
(in 26 targeted suburbs & Chicago)
“We can factor in a few numbers we can come up with more accurate vote totals. We can increase the totals by 25 percent to reflect the absence of other Arab surnames in the original list we examined, and again by about 10 percent to include those who do not have Arab last names,” Hanania said.
Adjusted Arab Voters
Southwest …. 6,061
West ………….. 3,137
North ………… 1,267
Sub-Cook … 10,465
Chicago …… 24,780
Total ………… 35,246
(in 26 targeted suburbs & Chicago)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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