CAIR Annual Banquet
By Zaki Syed
Left to right: Edward
Peck, Dave Jones and Fouad Khatib
Muslims are living in
a modern civil rights era, and we have even got our own
civil rights movement: CAIR. In the aftermath of 9/11 CAIR
was the organization that led the way in being a media watchdog,
educating the public about the true meaning of Islam, and
protecting Muslims against the erosion of their civil liberties.
All across the nation CAIR was being active, and with this
in mind CAIR decided to hold its 4th Annual Banquet in Sacramento
on Saturday, November 11, 2006.
The banquet brought together many lawyers, journalists,
policemen, and local politicians such as Assemblyman Dave
Jones. Jones has long been a friend of the Muslim community,
even hosting an Iftar and fasting for a day during the month
of Ramadan. On the same day as the CAIR banquet Jones attended
a friend’s funeral, but drove back to speak at the
CAIR Banquet. When asked why he attended, Jones replied,
“I am a big supporter of CAIR because of the work
they do for civil rights and liberties”.
Also present at the banquet was James J. Wedick, retired
FBI Agent, who was a chief investigator for the defense
of Umer Hayat and Hamid Hayat in the infamous Lodi terrorism
case. His work and opinions on the case were recently telecasted
on “Frontline.” Wedick did not receive any money
for his work on the Lodi case, and said he simply took the
case because he knew that the Hayats were not guilty of
what the government said they did. “I’m getting
to do what I always wanted to do as an FBI agent, help those
who can’t help themselves,” said Wedick.
Left to right: Maren Shawesh, Richard
Hanner, and James Wedick with CAIR official
It is for this reason
that Wedick was awarded the Distinguished Service award
by CAIR. Other recognitions awarded at the banquet were
the Community Service award given to Dr. Metwalli Amer,
Courage & Inspiration award for the Bay Area Association
of Muslim Lawyers ( BAAML), Media award for the Lodi News-Sentinel,
and the Youth award to Lilly and Nikky Mohanna.
On a lighter note a Pakistan Link reporter entertained the
crowd with his freestyle raps and his performance was followed
by a speeches from Assemblyman Dave Jones and the keynote
speaker Edward Peck, former US Ambassador to Iraq.
Peck’s speech focused on relations in the Middle East
and how by definition one cannot force democracy on others.
The crowd was moved and awed by his sense of humor, and
personal experiences applied to the current situation. Talking
about the “War on terror” he said, “Terrorism
is a war of poor who perceive injustice and want to defend
themselves”. He emphasized that the problem of terrorism
can be solved only by eliminating this perception (right
or wrong) of injustice. Peck is a speaker in high demand
as he had plans to speak at a seminar in Los Angeles the
next day, and was crowded by numerous fans after his speech;
they sought his thoughts on politics and various other topics.
The final speaker was Imam Aziz from the SALAM Center of
Sacramento. Aziz talked about the pitfalls of profiling
certain races, and the need for Americans to protect the
rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. “When somebody
discriminates Muslims, they don’t just discriminate
Muslims, but they discriminate Americans as well,”
Menoufy (left) and Wazhma Mojaddidi, James Wedick
and Pakistan Link reporter (right)
Aziz wasn’t the
only one who felt this way. Wazhma Mojaddidi, the defense
lawyer for Hamid Hayat in the Lodi Case, said that organizations
such as CAIR were essential in preventing events such as
the Lodi case from happening because they educate the non-Muslim
community on the stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam.
“CAIR serves the community and beyond,” says
Fouad Khalib, CAIR California Chairman. He is right, for
when a Davis teen was wrongly accused of hit and run because
she was a Muslim, CAIR answered the call. They were there
to talk about hate crimes when a Muslim lady in Fremont,
CA was killed in front of her kids. In the Lodi Case, CAIR
was the first to arrive on the scene to offer help. In dealing
with such cases CAIR does its part, bringing the real Islam
to the American people straight from the heart. Allah only
helps those who help themselves. So, remember when you help
CAIR you help yourself!