Over 1,800 Attend 12th Annual CAIR-LA Banquet
Imam Siraj Wahhaj (second from left),
Hussam Ayloush (extreme right) and others
at the CAIR-LA Banquet
Anaheim, CA: Over 1,800 people attended the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA) 11th Annual Banquet on Saturday, November 1.
The keynote address was delivered by Mark LeVine, history professor at University of California Irvine. He spoke on the importance of Muslims to be involved in their communities and to speak out. Other speakers were Imam Siraj Wahhaj, head of the Muslim Alliance of North America; Robert Greenwald, founder of Brave New Films; and Hussam Ayloush, CAIR-LA Executive Director.
Robert Greenwald (left) and Keynote Speaker Mark LeVine
At the event, Greenwald received “Courage in Media” from CAIR-LA officials as well as recognition from Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.
“I look forward to a day when we don’t have to give courage awards for saying and doing the right thing,” Greenwald said after receiving the award.
The event attracted people from various ethnicities and backgrounds, including Muslims and people of other faiths such as Christians, Sikhs and Jews. Additionally, the event brought together representatives from Congress, mayors, city council members, chiefs of police, interfaith leaders and officials. Representatives from most Southern California Islamic centers and organizations were also present.
Ayloush said that right after the tragic events of 9/11, the Muslim community did not stay silent in the face of unjust policies but rather, courageously chose to “act in accordance with our Islamic values – to speak for truth and justice, even against our own government and our fellow Muslims.”
He added, “This is not the time for American Muslims to relax and lower our guard. Those who wish to spread division and hatred in our country are still very active and are certainly going to push their extremist and narrow agenda on the new president …The new president will need to see an American Muslim community that is strong, organized and proud to serve its country -- a community that extends its hand to work with the new president and his administration to end the civil rights abuses and help regain America’s image and credibility in the world, especially the Muslim world.”
Performance by Japanese Taiko drummers
At the event, community leaders and public officials also spoke on the significance of CAIR’s work. In line with the theme “American Muslims: Defining Ourselves,” speakers such as Southern California Congresswoman Laura Richardson emphasized Muslims’ engagement in dialogue, building bridges of understanding and combating hate and prejudice.
Moreover, Wahhaj was recognized for his work in educating about Islam and helping build Islamic institutions.
Wahhaj gave a keynote address as well as conducting the fundraising portion of the event. CAIR-LA was able to raise $445,000 in funds, thanks to the generous support of the community.
CAIR-LA’s accomplishments and work for the year were also highlighted at the banquet. Additionally, a documentary on Southland Muslim community’s visit to Manzanar, a Japanese American internment camp during WWII, was shown. The Muslim participation was sponsored by CAIR-LA. Following the documentary screening, the event featured a cultural performance by Japanese Taiko drummers, which amazed the viewers.
The evening concluded with a raffle drawing for Islamic antique pieces.