MPAC’s 4th Annual Convention
Over 1,500 Debate “Counter Religious & Political Extremism”

Los Angeles, CA: Over 1,500 people joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council in “Countering Religious & Political Extremism” during its fourth annual convention on Saturday, December 18. During the national event, which drew attendees from as far as Buffalo, Houston, Seattle, New York, Wichita and Washington, DC, prominent academics, writers, officials and activists commended MPAC’s commitment to promoting an American Muslim agenda intent on preserving civil liberties within a secure nation.

Among the numerous highlights of the day’s events was the first address to American Muslims by European Muslim leader Dr. Tariq Ramadan since his resignation last week from a tenured teaching position with the University of Notre Dame, who spoke to the banquet audience via video teleconference.


A section of the audience

The panelists


“The essence of my message to Muslims throughout the world is this: Know who you are, who you want to be,” Dr. Ramadan said. “Find common values and build, with your non-Muslim fellow citizens, a society based on diversity and equality. Our collective success hinges on breaking out of intellectual ghettos, collaborating beyond our narrow associations and fostering mutual trust - without which living together is nearly impossible.”
Fellow keynote speaker Dr. John Esposito, founder and director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, commended MPAC’s work to represent American Muslims at a policy level.

The evening fundraising banquet raised $400,000 for MPAC. The convention program included panels which tackled extremism in religion, politics, media and policy, which will soon air on C-SPAN. Dr. Jamal Badawi, Dr. Asma Barlas, Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini unraveled the definition of extremism from an Islamic perspective rooted in the Qur’an.


Professor John Esposito

During a session which considered American counter-terrorism policy, Chuck Pena (Cato Institute) and Ron Nehring (CA Republican Party Chairman for San Diego County) commended MPAC’s publication of two documents which represent the pivotal role American Muslims can play in shaping informed olicy. Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati announced the release of MPAC’s National Anti-Terrorism Campaign Handbook and a paper entitled “Counterproductive Counterterrorism: How Anti-Islamic Rhetoric is Impeding America’s Homeland Security,” which were both distributed to convention attendees.

In a roundtable discussion moderated by Dr. Maher Hathout (MPAC Senior Advisor), panelists John Esposito, Shirin Sinnar (Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights), Jack Miles (author of “God: A Biography”), and Hussein Ibish (Progressive Muslim Union) discussed the political realities of extremism which impact Americans’ daily life. Panelists emphasized the importance of challenging post 9/11 policies which unfairly target American Muslims, including ethnic profiling, the Patriot Act, and preventive detention.

Other featured speakers included Los Angeles Mayoral candidates Richard Alarcon and Bernard Parks as well as Chaplain James Yee, ACLU Attorney Dalia Hashad, Producer Robert Greenwald (“Unconstitutional” & “Outfoxed”), Stephanie Thomas (Charlie Rose Show), Fiza Shah (Developments in Literacy), Donna Sibaai (The More Alike Than Different Project), Imam Sadullah Khan (Islamic Center of Irvine), Greg Orfalea (Pitzer College Center of Writing), and Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini (Islamic Educational Center of Orange County).
The multicultural arts organization Great Leap also presented “To All Relations: Sacred Moon Songs,” a theater performance evolving from the stories, relationships and spiritual experiences shared in the “To All Relations” residency workshops with members of the Muslim, Mexican, Japanese, and African American communities.
Read MPACnews to find out when convention proceedings will air on C-SPAN and will be available on www.mpac.org.
[CONTACT: Edina Lekovic, 213-383-3443, communications@mpac.org]

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