Ordinary People, Extraordinary Heroes

By Adeel Iqbal


AMV Convention in progress

The parents of a victim of the Sept. 11 attacks. A man who joined hands with the grandfather of the teen who killed his son. A lawyer who fights against the infringement of civil liberties every day. A woman who is leading the charge to create national departments of peace around the world and a Muslim organization that has made its mission to form global partnerships to create culture of peace, acceptance, mutual respect and harmony in our world.
This year’s American Muslim Voice convention – on the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 – brings together an amazing group of peacemakers: those who have experienced grief first-hand and channeled that grief into action. The theme, “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Heroes,” is only fitting. Such heroes include John and Bev Titus, the parents of 28-year-old flight attendant Alicia Titus who died on United Airlines Flight 175 five years ago on Sept 11th.
They have set aside their grief with the aim of promoting peace among the families of victims around the world. Azim Khamisa, whose son, Tariq Khamisa was shot and killed while delivering pizzas almost a decade ago has done exactly the same. Khamisa has joined hands with the grandfather and family of his son’s killer to promote a culture of peace and understanding specifically among America’s youth. “To honor my son I thought I had to do something more positive,” Khamisa says. “Instead of grieving, I was advised that I should give.”
The AMV convention, on Aug. 20th 2006 at Newark’s Chandni Restaurant, honors these heroes and highlights the peace-building and community development work that has taken place since Sept. 11, 2001.
Established in 2003, AMV fosters a culture of nonviolence and has been paramount in the development of genuine and effective community partnerships, both on the national and local level. The organization fights against the abuse of civil liberties and educates fellow Americans about misconception of Islam and Muslims first-hand. “In order to create a culture of peace, acceptance, mutual respect and harmony in our world we must join hands with all peace loving human being and continue to educate all others for our kids sake,” says Khalid Saeed, national president of AMV.
AMV-Foundation President, Samina Faheem Sundas echoes the same remarks. “We all share this beautiful planet and belong to one race - the human race,” she says. “We should get to know each other, learn to accept and respect one another and should celebrate our diversity.” AMV has made this its mission. “By approaching our fellow Americans with open minds, honesty, love, and compassion, we have broken countless barriers,” Sundas adds. “Yet many barriers still remain in place and much remains to be done.”
Convention speaker Shirin Sinnar who fights cases of deportation and infringement on civil liberties will explain what remains undone. Sinnar has seen high school children interrogated by federal officials inside their classes. She has seen families torn apart through immigration enforcement. Changing these situations is her drive. “My goal is to ensure that the rights that we value as Americans are actually lived and practiced,” she says.
The same is true for Grace Shimizu, the daughter of a Japanese World War II internee. Change can only be brought about through action, she says. And change can only occur if we reexamine our mistakes of the past. She will share these mistakes and provide a perspective on how to correct them.
Dot Maver, the executive director of the national Peace Alliance, who is advocating for the development of a federal department of peace not only in the US but in every nation of the world, says the time for action is now. “It does not matter what our race color or creed, it is a time to connect with one another, not to convince one another. Maver will demonstrate how each person can get involved in peace-building. All of the speakers preach and embody acts of peace.
Each shows that sitting on the sidelines accomplishes nothing. Each is an inspiration to follow. John Titus best embodies the spirit of these individuals and that of AMV with the following statement: “If I can make a difference in some small way, that gives me hope.”
Join us on Aug. 20th 2006 to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Sept 11. It is our duty to honor the families of the victims and those who have made it their cause to transform the world into one of peace.
For objectives of the convention, program, profiles of the speakers, how to support AMV and other details of the event please visit our website @ www.amuslimvoice.org You could also call Mr. Khalid Saeed 530-383-0959 or Samina Faheem Sundas at 650-387-1994.
(Adeel Iqbal is a junior at UC Berkeley, Board member of the American Muslim Voice and former editor in chief of the Cal Daily)


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