LA Human Relations Commission Honors Muslim Leader

Los Angeles, CA: The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations October 5 presented their prestigious John Allen Buggs Award for excellence in human relations to Muslim American leader Dr. Maher Hathout before a sold-out audience of more than 300 people.
After an invocation delivered by Rabbi Leonard Beerman, Rabbi emeritus at Leo Baeck Temple, the Commission presented awards to community-based organizations who work tirelessly to promote greater understanding among Los Angeles' diverse populations. Among the honorees were the Multiethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing Network, the Black AIDS Institute, Communities for Educational Equity, the National Conference for Community and Justice, and We Care for Youth. Additionally, the Commission presented its Courage Award to R.J. Cutler, Executive Producer of the award-winning series "30 Days" and "Black. White" which both air on the FX Network.
Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Rabbi emeritus at Temple Kol Tikvah, introduced the significance of the John Allen Buggs Leadership Award with a reminder that appreciating diversity rarely comes easily.
"This room is filled with powerful and meaningful people who have dedicated many, many years to promoting inter-religious harmony and who have worked closely with Dr. Hathout," Jacobs said. "Diversity and dialogue are not a matter of kissing each other on the cheek or patting each other on the back. This man is about more than that. He's about truth and being honest in our dealings with one another, even when we disagree."
In his acceptance speech, Dr. Hathout thanked all the religious, civic and community leaders who stood by him publicly after a nasty smear campaign was launched by the Zionist Organization of America and the American Jewish Committee following the Commission's decision to honor him in July.
"I thank the Commission and every single one of you -- the real true Americans who represent the way America ought to be," said Hathout. "Human relations succeed when people with differences reach out together and build together a better future while acknowledging and respecting their differences. After all, across the river of life we build a bridge between opposite banks. To build a bridge on the same bank would be easy but silly.
“For those who supported me, I'm really humbled and indebted for the lesson in the validity and value of interfaith, intercultural, interfamily, and inter-goodness relations we are all working for," Hathout added. "For those who opposed me with an extra dose of passion, in the spirit of this blessed time when the Muslim and Jewish holidays overlap, I am extending a hand of friendship, opening a mind of dialogue, and offering a heart of love. Your children and my children are stuck together in America. They better learn how to make it a better place."
This award is a landmark for the Muslim American community, one which demonstrates their ongoing work to forge stronger bonds within their broader communities in civic, cultural and religious life. In order to nurture the health and harmony of broad and diverse communities in the County of Los Angeles, Dr. Hathout and MPAC look forward to the opportunity to engage in open and civil dialogues with civic and religious leaders to contribute to constructive public discourse.
Founded in 1988, MPAC is a public service agency working for the civil rights of American Muslims, for the integration of Islam into American pluralism, and for a positive, constructive relationship between American Muslims and their representatives.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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