November 1, 2016
CAIR-SFBA 22nd annual dinner draws 1200 people
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
The Council on Arab-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA), held its 22nd annual dinner at the Convention Center, Santa Clara. The dinner, on October 29, was attended by 1,200 people from far and near.
The event was held under the theme "Advancing Justice, Challenging Hate" which reflected CAIR's work in combating high level of Islamophobia during the presidential election campaign.
Spojmie Nasiri, President of CAIR-SFBA, welcoming the guests, pointed out that her organization has provided pro bono legal services to 150 individuals from hate crimes to FBI visits, unemployment, discrimination and school bullying.
Only three days back, on October 26, CAIR-SFBA filed a complaint with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings against Southwest Airlines for racial and religious profiling of a Muslim passenger, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who was removed from a Southwest Airlines fight for speaking Arabic while sitting in a plane.
Spojmie Nasiri said one of the objective of her organization is to encourage American Muslims to participate in the mainstream political process. In this respect the CAIR launched large-scaled voter mobilization campaigns with voter-registration campaigns, weekly outreach at Friday prayers. It held sic candidate forums in the Bay Area and published a Voter Guide.
Another achievement of CAIR-CA was sponsoring 5th annual "Muslim Day at the Capitol" in Sacramento in April last which drew more than 600 people including a record number of students from all regions of California.
Sheikh Omar Suleiman, a world-renowned Islamic scholar from New Orleans, Louisiana, was the keynote speaker. Other speakers included Dr. Altaf Hussain, the Vice President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Attorney Zehra Billoo, CAIR-SFBA Executive Director.
Recognition awards for Muslim community work was another feature of the CAIR dinner. Californa Assembly Member Bill Quirk was presented "Promoting Justice Award" for his sponsorship of Muslim Appreciation and Muslim Awareness Month resolution passed by the CA Assembly on August 1, 2016. The resolution pointed out that California is home to over 240 mosques, more than any other state in the country. The resolution also decried the discrimination that Muslim Americans have had to endure in the years following the September 11 attacks. The resolution coma at a time of increased anti-Muslim rhetoric, according to a recent civil rights report compiled by the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Other CAIR awards were awards to Moina Shaiq (Enhancing Understanding Award) for her work founding the Meet a Muslim neighborhood conversations initiative, Jehan Hakim and Fakhra Shah (Game Changer of the Year Award) for their help in increased participation of Muslims in the Muslim Day at the Capitol and Ilyas Kizilogu (Volunteer of the Year Award) for his exceptional volunteer work at the office of CAIR-SFBA.
Charleston, South Carolina-based standup comedian, Jeremy McLellan, thrilled the audience with his mesmerizing performance. His material covers a wide range of hot-button topics like politics, gender, race and religion.
However, a captivating presentation by Young, Gifted & Black (YGB) group perhaps stole the show. Their performance included choral poems, individual performances, raps, songs and chants from (African American) Black history. Young, Gifted & Black, a group sponsored by 100 Black Men of Oakland, has also performed in Ghana.
The San Francisco Bay Area chapter is the oldest CAIR chapter (CAIR-SFBA) in the country. It was established in 1994. More than 20 years later, the chapter has grown tremendously to serve the area’s nearly 250,000 Muslims residing in the nine Bay Area counties. The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is the largest American Muslim civil rights advocacy organization in the United States.
In a message to CAIR-SFBA, on the occasion of its 22nd dinner, Congressman from the 15th District of California, Eric Swalwell said "The work demonstrated by CAIR has been instrumental in mobilizing the Muslim community to register vote and to stand firm against the unprecedented spike in anti-Muslim hate incidents occurring all around the country." Congressman from the 17th District of California, Mike Honda, in his message said since 1994, CAIR has been working towards preserving the civil rights of American Muslims.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com