Samina Wins Human Rights Heroes Award
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Samina Sundas, Founding Executive Director of American Muslim Voice, has won this year’s Human Rights Heroes award offered by the civil rights group, Global Exchange. It is interesting to note that there were 38 nominations for this coveted award and the nominees included Amy Goodman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Cynthia McKinney, Dalai Lama and Robert Fisk.
However, the Global Exchange selection committee decided to give the award to Samina Sundas in recognition of her quest for understanding and friendship between Muslims and all communities. Her strivings have replaced division, distrust and violence with hope and compassion.
San Francisco-based Global Exchange is an activist human rights organization which campaigns to inspire creative actions to expose the real cost of war, challenge war profiteering and military recruitment, and build people-to-people ties to expand understanding and tolerance.
In its decision the Global Exchange said:
“A culture of fear, suspicion, and hatred toward Muslims was rampant following 9/11. In response, Samina founded American Muslim Voice, an organization dedicated to creating lifelong friendships between Muslims and people of all communities. Her quest for understanding and friendship has replaced division, distrust and violence with hope and compassion. Global Exchange is honored to recognize Samina, true advocate of human rights and peace, as our 2009 Human Rights Peace Hero.”
Tellingly, renowned journalist, Robert Fisk got the highest popular votes as the Human Rights Hero nominee but the Global Exchange voted to give this award to Samina for her grassroots work for peace.
Robert Fisk was awarded “Journalist Honorable Mention” Award for reporting from the front lines of conflicts across the Middle East and around the world for more than three decades. The Global Exchange committee said: “We are honored that he was nominated as a Human Rights Hero, and are not surprised he received more votes than any other Human Rights Hero nominee. Fisk has said that journalism must ‘challenge authority, all authority, especially so when governments and politicians take us to war.’ We are proud to honor Mr. Fisk and his commitment to truth and justice.”
Expressing pleasure for the honor, Samina said she was grateful to the Global Exchange for recognizing and valuing AMV’s work. She said: “We strongly believe in the power of human connection and we will be able to break all barriers through these simple social and educational events like open homes, peace picnics and cultural events. We will become a gentle force once we build strong bonds and friendships among us. Peace is possible through friendships.”
Samina thanked the person who nominated her and all those who voted for her.
American Muslim Voice Foundation was founded in July 2003 by American Muslims to work for and with all Americans. It works with all Muslim, multi-faith, community organizations/ groups and individuals that share the vision of a peaceful, harmonious and inclusive world. The AMV has launched a Miracle Movement of Peace and Friendship to foster friendships among all Americans by bridging the cultural and religious gap. It is a grassroots, nonviolent and inclusive organization dedicated to preserving and protecting civil liberties and constitutional rights for all.