Nearly 2,000 Turn Out to Hear Nobel Laureate at CAIR-LA Banquet

$390,000 raised to support CAIR-LA's civil rights and advocacy work

(Anaheim, Calif. - 11/12/14) -- Nearly 2,000 people turned out on Saturday at the Anaheim Hilton to hear Nobel laureate Tawakkol Karman speak at the 18th annual banquet of the Greater Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) During the event, supporters donated some $390,000 in support of CAIR-LA's civil rights and advocacy work.

SEE: CAIR-LA 18th Annual Banquet Photos

With the theme, "Rooted in Faith, Growing Through Service," this year's banquet featured groundbreaking figures whose acts of service reflect their commitment to their faith's values of peace, justice and freedom for all.

A human rights activist, politician, and journalist of Yemeni decent, Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Making her visit to the United States to speak at CAIR-LA’s banquet, she accepted the civil rights organization’s "Champion of Freedom" award for her commitment to human rights, freedom of the press and women's empowerment.

Karman delivered an earnest keynote address in which she underscored the value of CAIR's work in empowering the American Muslim community to actively contribute to positive social change for America and for all people.

In her speech, Karman said:

"In making America better, all of you have to rise, because everyone around the world needs America to be better. We need an America that is based on principles and value -- based on freedom, on human rights, on acceptance, co-existence, love for each other, and peace. We need this America, because when America is away from its principles, all the world is away from its principles. And now we sacrifice because American politics are far away from its principles and values. Now I'm speaking to all Americans, you should make America to practice its values and principles. We need you to regain America!"

She encouraged the audience to be aware of their civic duty and ability to contribute to the accurate image of Islam and Muslims, stating: "It is up to you to choose whether you are a key to the solution or the problem. So please, please, choose wisely."

Karman’s speech received a standing ovation from the audience.

Attendees also heard from Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaib, who was the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature and the second Muslim woman to be elected to any state legislature in the United States. Tlaib stressed the importance of conveying the teachings of Islam through the acts of service. She shared her journey of running for public office and the challenges she faced belonging to a faith that was widely misunderstood. She shared how being rooted in the teachings of Islam drives her to contribute to civic life for the betterment of her constituents.

Tlaib was presented with an award of appreciation by Betty Yee, a member of the California State Board of Equalization and CA State Controller Elect.

CAIR-LA Executive Director, Hussam Ayloush thanked the community for their continued support and shared CAIR's vision and strategy to help advance the American Muslim's state of affairs.

“CAIR is developing our community’s infrastructure of leadership. CAIR is empowering and training Muslims to launch campaigns for justice, run for office, stand for their rights, build coalitions, and challenge anti-Muslim bigotry and misinformation.  CAIR is developing an American Muslim identity that is proudly and confidently rooted in faith, and that is free of guilt, fear, and a false sense of powerlessness. I hope that we can continue to count on you to be with us on this journey as we strive and work towards these goals,” said Ayloush.

Banquet attendees watched a short video summarizing CAIR-LA's programs and events to help empower and equip American Muslim youth to be future leaders.

 summarizing the CAIR-LA's programs and events to help empower and equip American Muslim youth to be the future leaders of America.

Imam Johari Abdul Malik, director of community outreach at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Virginia, inspired American Muslims to continue to support civil rights advocacy work.

Additionally, there were a number of city and state officials present as well as interfaith leaders, and imams and representatives from almost all of the Southern California Islamic Centers and mosques. including California State Board of Equalization member and CA State Controller Elect, Betty Yee who spoke about the significant contributions of American Muslims and CAIR's role in being a leading advocate for advancing justice and mutual understand. "Thank you for being inspiring models of life as Americans. Insha'Allah (God willing) may each of (our communities) live a life free of discrimination and one with peace and harmony. Insha'Allah may it be so." 

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.​


CAIR ‘Disappointed’ with Md. School Board’s Decision on Muslim Holidays

CAIR-logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/12/2014) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today expressed “disappointment” with the Montgomery County Public Schools' Board of Education's decision to remove reference to all religious holidays from the 2015-16 school calendar rather than accommodate CAIR and the Equality for Eid Coalition's request to grant Muslim holidays equal billing as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. 

CAIR: Maryland School District Strikes Christmas and Hanukkah from Calendar after Requests for Religious Equality 

CAIR: School Board Yanks Christmas from Calendar After Muslims Ask for Their Own Holiday Off

Holiday's Names Stricken From Next Year's Montgomery Schools Calendar (Washington Post)

Witnesses who spoke in support of recognizing the Eid holiday at the packed hearing yesterday included County Councilmember George Leventhal, CAIR’s Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry, a Rabbi from Faith Community Working Group, Susan Kerin of Pax Christi Catholic Church, and many others. After listening to the testimonies, the board deliberated for than two hours before voting to remove all religious references from the 2015-16 school calendar. 

In a statement, CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry said:

"We're very disappointed that the board would take such drastic measures to deny fair and equitable treatment for the county's Muslim population. The Muslim community has been struggling for years to obtain equality for the Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha holidays. There's no justice in robbing other faith communities of their holidays in order to deny Muslims equal accommodation. We believe yesterday’s decision doesn't solve the problem, as schools would still not be closed in observance of Muslim holidays unless they happen to coincidentally land on a weekend or other holiday."

[NOTE: Eid ul-Fitr (EED-al-FITTER), or “feast of fast breaking,” marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan and is the first of the two major Muslim holidays. The second holiday, Eid ul-Adha (EED-al-ODD-ha), comes near the end of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca.]

Chaudry added that the Muslim community plans to be part of the conversation as the board decides on holiday inclusion criteria in anticipation of future requests for dates to be added to school calendars.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry, [email protected], 443-823-7816; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, [email protected]; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, [email protected]