Large Turnout Testifies
to Community Support for CAIR-LA
at the CAIR Banquet
CA: Nearly 2,000 people attended the Council on American-Islamic
Relations, Southern California Chapter’s (CAIR-LA)
10th Anniversary Banquet on Saturday, November 18.
The event attracted people from various ethnicities and
backgrounds, including Muslims and people of other faiths
such as Christians, Sikhs and Jews. Additionally, the event
brought together mayors, city council members, chiefs of
police, interfaith leaders and officials and representatives
from Congress. Representatives from most Southern California
Islamic centers and organizations were also present.
Hussam Ayloush , Executive Director of CAIR-LA, gave an
overview of how a group of volunteers got together 10 years
ago to work on behalf of the American Muslim community.
Back then, the organization would get a few cases of harassment
or profiling. But things changed after Sept. 11, and the
entire community came under the spotlight. Even people perceived
to be Muslim or Arab, such as Sikh or Latinos, became targets
of prejudice and discrimination.
However, CAIR-LA representatives worked hard over the years,
disseminating accurate information about Islam and American
Muslims, and building bridges among the Muslim community,
law enforcement and interfaith groups. CAIR-LA also helped
do enormous work on civil rights issues, immigration reform,
and other social justice issues.
“The challenges are still worrisome. Today, our world
and country are polarized, more polarized than it has ever
been in recent history,” Ayloush said. Offering words
of hope to the audience, Ayloush added, “American
Muslims are well-positioned to counter and defeat such plans
by promoting a culture of dialogue and cooperation…”
At the event, community leaders and public officials also
spoke on the significance of CAIR’s work. In line
with the theme “American Muslims: Connecting &
Sharing,” speakers vowed to work together in connecting
and sharing resources, building bridges of understanding
and combating hate and prejudice.
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez talked about the post-9/11
era, which was very difficult for the Muslim, Arab and Sikh
communities. “I am incredibly hopeful that the days
of ‘You are with us or you’re against us’
are finally gone. Let us begin a new era, not just an era
of tolerance but an era of acceptance,” she said.
Ray Cordova, assistant to State Board of Equalization Chairman
John Chiang (also State Controller-Elect) presented CAIR
with a certificate congratulating the organization on its
10 years of continuous good work.
Orange County Supervisor Lou Correa talked about the importance
of our communities’ vote. “If we continue to
vote, if we continue to say, ‘We count. We as Americans,
we as new Americans count,’ we will make a difference
and we will continue to make our voices heard,” he
Other speakers included Assemblywoman Judy Chu; Assistant
Director in Charge J. Stephen Tidwell, FBI - Los Angeles;
and Anaheim Mayor Pro-Tem Richard Chavez.
Professor Sulayman Nyang of Howard University as well as
Imam Siraj Wahhaj, of Masjid At-Taqwa in New York, gave
keynote addresses. Wahhaj also conducted the fundraising
portion of the event. CAIR-LA was able to raise $430,000
in funds, thanks to the generous support of the community.
For the first time this year, CAIR-LA also had a comedy
segment by Mohammad Amer. In a light and humorous way, the
23-year-old comedian shared his experiences growing up as
a Palestinian American and the challenges he faced as an
Arab and Muslim American.
CAIR-LA’s accomplishments and work for the year were
also highlighted at the banquet. This year, CAIR-LA handled
378 cases of discrimination against Muslims; conducted various
workshops for the media, law enforcement agencies, and Muslim
community; initiated a joint lawsuit with the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of American Muslims who
suffered lengthy delays in acquiring their citizenship;
and sponsored the ‘Explore the Life of Muhammad’
campaign, which resulted in the order of 18,000 books or
DVDs on the legacy of Prophet Muhammad.
The evening concluded with a raffle drawing for airline
tickets and Islamic antique pieces.