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 California.
"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 organization."
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, Steve Whitmore.
Muslim leaders said they were immediately attracted to the idea.
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 denouncing extremism.
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.




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.