Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 5:08PM Gilad AtzmonAbu Obeida was murdered two days ago in Houston Texas. I lost a friend. Palestine lost one of its best activists ever.
Obeida was a successful Palestinian business man. He organized and funded some very important solidarity activities in the USA and beyond. Obeida was a key element within the American Al-Awada movement. I met Abu twice last year. I learned a lot from the man. I am going to miss him, we are all going to miss this incredible human being. We are all going to pray for Abu.
The US Palestinian Community Network expresses its feelings of great sadness and grief on the loss of the Palestinian community activist and leader Abu Obeida Abdel-Salam Omran, of the village of Burin, who lived in Houston, Texas. He died on Friday, August 13, 2010 of his injuries suffered as a victim of an attempted robbery at his business in Houston. Two thieves attempted to rob his business and then fatally injured Abu Obeida with their car as they fled. Abu Obeida died in the hospital later that night.Abu Obeida Omran was always ready to serve his people, standing in the forefront of the defense of the Palestinian people’s rights, particularly the Right to Return. He was a leader in defending the civil and political rights of the Palestinian and Arab community in Texas. He was a leading organizer of the Viva Palestina convoy in 2009, which traveled to Gaza to break the siege and worked to support and welcome Palestinian refugees from Iraq arriving in the United States. He played an active role in building Palestinian community organizations, the right of return movement, solidarity movements with the Palestinian people, and cultural groups, including a popular debkeh troupe.
The Palestinian community has today lost a charismatic leader, and the children of Burin in the U.S., and all of the Palestinian community, mourn the loss of Abu Obeida. We pledge to him to continue upon the path of struggle, unity and return, and to fight for the full achievement of all of our national goals.
Today, we send greetings to the people of Burin village, to his wife, his children, his family and his comrades, in Palestine and in the diaspora. Abu Obeida Omran was born on November 13, 1967. He was 42 years old, married with two sons, Abu Obeida and Abu Ali Mustafa, and a daughter, Maryam.
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Slain Palestinian remembered for his generosity
Omran was killed in robbery attempt at one of his Houston stores
By JEANNIE KEVER
Aug. 15, 2010, 9:55PM
Abu Obeida Omran moved to the United States in 1990, later becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Abu Obeida Omran was internationally known for his work to create an independent Palestinian state, but the immigrant was equally interested in helping his neighbors in his adopted hometown of Houston.
"He always told me he wanted to find a way to give back to the community," said Massoud Nayeri, a long-time friend who had joined Omran in a campaign to provide school supplies for local children.
Police said Omran, whom they identified as Abo Obyb Abdel-Salaam but was widely known as Abu Obeida, died late Friday when he was run over during an attempted robbery at a convenience store he recently opened in southwest Houston. He was 42.
Curtis Odette Robinson was attempting to shoplift from the store when Omran confronted him and escorted him out, said HPD spokeswoman Jodi Silva. The men — joined by alleged getaway driver Albert Lee Hall - began to fight, she said. At some point, Robinson got in the car and hit Omran, Silva added, running over him with both the front and rear tires.
Robinson has been charged with murder. Hall is charged with assault.
A proud citizen
Omran moved to the United States in 1990, later becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Over the years, he helped dozens of Palestinian refugees establish themselves after they arrived here, even as he built his own businesses.
"He went through the struggles of a typical American," said another friend, Mohammed Salhoot. "He went from a parking lot attendant to a gas station attendant. ... He struggled, like any other immigrant, until he succeeded and made his way through."
Omran owned several businesses and had opened the Chevron station where he was fatally attacked just two months ago. Friends said the new store was named Farouk Chevron, in recognition of former gubernatorial candidate Farouk Shami, and featured an appearance at the grand opening in June by Miss USA, Rima Fakih, the first Arab-American to win the title.
Omran and Salhoot had recently formed a development company, JWM Development, through which they hoped to create business opportunities for other Palestinian immigrants.
Salhoot said the company was named for Omran's sons, Abu Obeida, whom Omran jokingly called "John Wayne," and Abu Ali Mustafa.
"He was such a proud Palestinian-American," Salhoot said to explain Omran's likening his older son to the quintessential American actor.
But he never forgot his roots.
Raised $150,000 for Gaza
Omran was a leader in the movement to allow Palestinians to return to their homeland, a subject of ongoing dispute with Israel.
He formed the Houston chapter of Al-Awda, a national group that supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state, and helped organize a convoy to Gaza in 2009, delivering supplies to Palestinian families. He raised about $150,000 for that effort, Salhoot said.
He also took on causes closer to his new home, supporting efforts to preserve and revitalize the neighborhoods surrounding his stores.
Gave to other causes, too
Ester King, a volunteer for the Black Heritage Society, said he met Omran more than a year ago as the society reached out to foreign-born owners of stores in African-American neighborhoods.
Omran donated money to preserve African-American memorabilia, one of the society's projects, King said.
"Sometimes business people are so focused on their own bottom lines that they don't leave a lot of room for social justice," King said. "That was not him."
Salhoot said Omran never spoke of fear about working at the stores he owned.
"I always advised him to watch out, to be careful," said Salhoot, who formerly owned a string of check-cashing stores. "I told him not to carry money in and out of the stores, to hire an armored carrier. Eventually, he probably would have, but when you are a small owner-operator, you do everything."
He said he hoped local political leaders would acknowledge Omran's stature as a community leader by attending the prayer services, set for 9 a.m. today at Masjid Hamza, a mosque at 6233 Tres Lagunas Drive, near Highway 6 and the Westpark Tollway. Burial will follow.
In addition to his sons, Omran is survived by his wife and one daughter, Maryam.