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Published: Saturday, 9/25/2004

Immigrants extol voting rights as new U.S. citizens

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Angie Andrews, left, a native of Thailand who became a U.S. citizen at a ceremony at the Greater Islamic Center of Toledo, is greeted by women of the American Legion. Angie Andrews, left, a native of Thailand who became a U.S. citizen at a ceremony at the Greater Islamic Center of Toledo, is greeted by women of the American Legion.
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Jamala Hassan had been an American citizen for less than half an hour when she completed the form giving her the right to vote.

It's not why the 38-year-old former Jordanian became a U.S. citizen, but voting is a right that Mrs. Hassan said she takes seriously.

Mrs. Hassan was one of 82 area residents who earned that right yesterday after completing the naturalization process and becoming U.S. citizens.

They came from 29 countries, spoke different native languages, and believed in various faiths.

But as they gathered at the Greater Islamic Center of Toledo in Perrysburg Township, the men and women shared the same love of their new country.

"I love this country," said Mrs. Hassan, who first came to the United States 18 years ago. "I feel great. Now I can vote."

Mrs. Hassan, whose husband is a native of Nicaragua and whose four children were born in the United States, said her desire to vote comes from the belief that the right man needs to be in the White House.

All too familiar with war, Mrs. Hassan said she likely will vote for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, because she "hates war."

Shereen Abbas, 36, said she became a U.S. citizen because she doesn't have a country of her own.

From the Kurdish area of Iraq, Mrs. Abbas said she and her husband, Andy Abbas, have been strong supporters of President Bush.

She said she is thankful she became a citizen before the Oct. 4 voter registration deadline so she can do her part to keep the President in the White House.

"This is the only country for us," she said. Her husband was naturalized in 1986. "You come for the freedom here."

Each new citizen was given a certificate and a small American flag.

The timing of their ceremony made them the last group in the area to be naturalized before the voter registration deadline.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Vernelis Armstrong presided over the naturalization. She reminded the rows and rows of people that each one has a role in making his or her new country better. The easiest way to do that is at the polls, she said.

"You have a voice," she said. "Please exercise that voice by voting."

The new citizens, by their former countries, are:

Algeria - Tim Zebbadju.

Canada - James Sydney Byatt, Marlene Mary Eveline Cervenec, Patricia Ann Lewis, and James Floyd Quick.

China - Yi Juan Chen, Isabelle Lu Christopher, Pan Shieng Fan, Ting Lin, Liying Wang, Meizhu Wang, Aiqin Zhang, and Anthony Tong Gao Zhou.

Egypt - Manal El Shiekl, Nabila Abd El Basset Hand Gomaa, and May Abdelwahab Soliman.

Germany - Anke Karina Celano.

Guyana - Dwayne Sherwin Cummings, Sandra Elizabeth Cummings, and Andre Reginald Seales.

India - Meena Arora, Shashi Bhushan Bhatt, Turun Kumar Goswami, Balraj Singh Grewal, Manika Sandaran Asha-Kumaran, Archna Mahajan, Asha Mehta, Kamlesh Nathabhai Patel, and Manish Mahadeo Thusay.

Iran - Farhad Ayromluzadeh, Anita Golberg Conway, and Shirin Darabi Golshani.

Iraq - Shereen Salih Abbas and Widad Bahnam Kellow.

Jamaica - Ruth Deloris Nice and Donovan Anthony Perry.

Jordan - Eddie Mohamed Al Khatib, Jamala Hassan, Firas Salem Qammouh, Haitham Omar Said, Amjad Toufik Zaim, and Mohammad Taawfik Muhieddin Zaim.

Laos - Tony Chai Singkham and Amphayvanh Veemara.

Lebanon - Mariam Ahmed Che-aib, Aref Hassan Younes El Itawi, Rabab Manwour Joumaa, Hiyam Ali Kanaan, Adly Darar Shebaro, and Issa Hussein Wehby.

Mexico - Yahaira Sujey Edwards, Socorro Juarez, Maria Luisa Sandoval, and Jose Mario Garcia Sanzon.

Nigeria - Adetutu Kuteyi, Olatubosun Ogunsanwo, and Enovwo Eloho Ohwofahworaye.

Pakistan - Naveed Nav Yousaf and Sajida Parveen Yousaf.

Palestine - Nimer Al Sayed Ah-med.

Panama - Miroslava Melizeth Hollingsworth.

Philippines - Antonio Gomez Bispo, Minda Gomez Bispo, Nenita Sinon Miller, Arlene Biong Reid, and Maria Fe Centina Stanley.

Poland - Urszula Barbara Kroczak.

Russia - Olga Yurievna Baker.

Singapore - Rani Mahendran Bruce.

South Korea - Su Jin Yoon.

Sri Lanka - Upali Nissanka Jay-amaha, Thurai Yogaraj Kumaran, and Ambalanath Shan.

Thailand - Angie Andrews and Bounkhong Xayasy.

Ukraine - Leonid Abramovich Maryamov.

United Kingdom - Greta Murray, John Murray, and Olayinka Olatokunbo Omitowoju.

Vietnam - Binh Julie Duong and Hanna Hang Nguyen.

Yemen - Layegah Ali Omar.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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