Muslim American Homeland
Security Congress Launched
By Shakeel Syed
L to R: Jane
Harman, Le Baca, Muzammil Siddiqi, Dafer M. Dakhil,
Hussam Ayloush and Shakeel Syed
Anaheim, CA: Flanked by
US Congress member Jane Harman, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky
and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca; a group of Muslims
from Southern California came together and introduced the
newly formed Muslim-American Homeland Security Congress (MAHSC).
MAHSC is expected to develop into a nationwide network of
local Muslim -American community, business and religious leaders.
"We hope that this organization will enhance the partnership
and cooperation between the Muslim-American community and
law enforcement, as well as, local and national elected officials,
civic and inter-faith groups. We believe that the Muslim-Americans
have a vital role to play in making America a better and more
secure place to live in for all people," said Shakeel
Syed, Executive Director of the Shura Council of Southern
"The security of our homeland is important to all Americans,"
Sheriff Lee Baca said. "So is the understanding and acceptance
of our differences. The Muslim-American Homeland Security
Congress will play a vital role in fostering education, understanding,
communication and cooperation between Muslims and the general
public toward the mutual goal of protecting and defending
America and its entire people. Together, we will fight bigotry
and work jointly to prevent terrorism."
"The key to winning the peace is in this room,"
said Congresswoman Jane Harman. "We cannot solve the
problem of terrorism without the support of the Muslim-American
community. I am proud to associate myself with this important
The Congress will establish media related programs to educate
the general public about the efforts of the Muslim American
community to fight extremism and terrorism. It will also provide
advocacy with government and interfaith leaders. The Congress
will also create Youth Council.
The Muslim-American Homeland Security Congress includes the
following members on its Executive Board, who were selected
by the Congress, represented by dozens of local leaders and
organizations: Ahmad Ali, Council of Pakistan American Affairs;
Hussam Ayloush, Council on American-Islamic Relations; Dafer
M. Dakhil, Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation; Tiffany Horton,
Muslim Women's League; Dr. Jamil Momand, Islamic Center of
Southern California; Imam Saadiq Saafir, Masjid Ibaadillah;
Sireen Sawaf, Muslim Public Affairs Council; Dr. Muzammil
Siddiqi, Islamic Society of Orange County; and Shakeel Syed,
Shura Council of Southern California.
According to another press report, Muslim leaders from Southern
California and Sheriff Lee Baca launched an initiative Wednesday
to increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism and
expand the role of American Muslims in denouncing extremist
groups like al-Qaida.
The Muslim-American Homeland Security Congress, with representation
from nearly every prominent Muslim organization in Southern
California, will share information on possible terrorist threats,
create a youth council to reach Muslims who might feel alienated
in American society and give religious leaders a collective
platform to condemn terrorist acts.
"Together, we will fight bigotry and work jointly to
prevent terrorism," Sheriff Baca told a news conference
where he was joined by Muslim leaders.
Weekly meetings to set up the group began six months ago.
After bombings in July killed 52 people and four attackers
in London, Baca and local Muslim leaders began exploring ways
to prevent a similar attack here, said the sheriff's spokesman,
Muslim leaders said they were immediately attracted to the
Even before the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington
D.C., Muslim leaders had met with law enforcement officials
as part of community policing initiatives; Southern California
is home to as estimated 500,000 Muslims who trace their origins
to points all over the world.
"The American public must know that American Muslims
reject the idea there is a clash of civilizations," said
Sireen Sawaf of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "We
feel no conflict between our Muslim identity and our American
identity, and the war on terrorism won't be won without involvement
of our community."
The community leaders also said they feel mainstream Americans
largely see Muslims as keeping quiet on terrorism and are
unaware that many in the Muslim community have spent years
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has routinely issued
public condemnations of terrorism, even collecting hundreds
of thousands of signatures in a petition campaign denouncing
hatred in the name of Islam.
"We still hear voices saying 'Why aren't Muslims speaking
out against terrorism?'" said Hussam Ayloush, CAIR director
in Southern California. "This congress will allow us
to convey the message that Muslims are not the enemy."
The new organization has a nine-member executive board. Membership
will draw from mosque members, students, professors and religious
scholars. A parallel advisory council will include law enforcement
officers, elected officials and business leaders.