California Muslims Join 38th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage

CAIR-LA Area Executive Director Hussam Ayloush addresses the gathering

Anaheim, CA: On Saturday, April 28, the Los Angeles Area and Sacramento Valley offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations coordinated with the Manzanar Committee and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) to bring members of the California Muslim community for a one-day pilgrimage to the Manzanar National Historic Site.
Visitors listened to speakers who narrated their families’ stories of internment at Manzanar during World War II, when the US government ordered more than 120,000 Japanese Americans to be detained at 11 military-style camps, without ever allowing them any due process of law. Not a single internee was ever charged or convicted.
“An entire community was unjustly detained during World War II, only because of their Japanese ancestry,” said CAIR-LA Area Executive Director Hussam Ayloush at the conclusion of the trip. “Americans must remember what can happen during a time of war and rampant propaganda. We should let history be our guide and not allow our government to repeat the same injustices, this time against American Muslims and Arabs, as we continue with the War on Terror. ' ”
As calls for special scrutiny and profiling of Muslims are increasing, Ayloush stressed the need for members of the Muslim community to visit Manzanar and other Japanese American internment camps to relearn about that dark moment in our country’s history.
Andy Noguchi, coordinator for the Florin JACL Manzanar Pilgrimage, said, "It is vital to visit Manzanar and other internment camps, not only for Muslims, but for all Americans especially after September 11, so that people understand that war backlash has happened before. It's important to bring a lot of concerned Americans together to spread awareness of what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II and how the Muslim community is now being affected in similar ways."
On Saturday, visitors also participated in interfaith ceremonies held at the Manzanar monument. Ayloush and Dr. E. M. Abdul Mumin, another Muslim leader and head of the Du Bois Institute in Riverside, offered a Muslim prayer. Later in the evening, people visited the Manzanar Interpretive Center, which featured exhibits and an award-winning documentary entitled “Remembering Manzanar.”
The theme of this year’s pilgrimage was “One Life…a Legacy for All,” in honor of the legacy of Sue Kunitomi Embrey, an internee at Manzanar. She became the driving force behind the movement to create the Manzanar National Historic Site. She also served as Manzanar Committee Chair and founder of the Manzanar Pilgrimage. Embrey passed away in May 2006.
CAIR, America 's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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