CAIR- Los Angeles Area Banquet a Tremendous Success
By Nighat Ali
From left: Dr. John Esposito, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Hussam Ayloush, Ameena Qazi and a section of the audience
Anaheim , CA : The Council on American-Islamic Relations Greater Los Angeles Area held its 14th Annual Banquet on October 30, 2010. The arrangements were impeccable and demonstrated the verve and dynamism of CAIR and the community.
The vibrant gathering included hundreds of friends, scholars, volunteers, generous donors and media partners of CAIR-LA. The eagerness on the part of the attendees to strengthen interfaith understanding was all too evident. Quite a few individuals were duly accorded recognition for their hard work and dedication for making a difference in building interfaith coalitions, educating public officials about Islam, protecting the civil rights of American Muslims and fighting bias and discrimination in the workplace. The theme of this year, “Carrying the Legacy, Advancing with Confidence,” reflects the strong desire of CAIR to pay tribute to the leaders of yesterday and to call on the leaders of today to carry on their noble undertaking with accelerated momentum..
The keynote addresses were delivered by John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University; Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Amir of Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA) , also known as one the most dynamic and charismatic speakers and tireless supporters of Islamic causes.
Recipients of the 2010 CAIR Courage Award in Community Building included Rabbi Haim and Jane Hunter from Jews on First, Reverend Peter Laarman, Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR), and Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). The CAIR Interfaith Courage Awardees included Reverend Wilfredo Benitez, Charell Wyatt Charlie and Robin McLaren, Bishop Dr. Steve Gilliland and Judy Gilliland, Reverend Sarah Halverson, The Interfaith Council of Murrieta and Temecula Valley, Rev. Dr, Reinhard and Rev. Dr. Laura Krauss, and Reverend Jerald M. Stinson. The CAIR Courage in Media Awardees included Yvette Cabrera, James C. Ledford Jr. and Sheriff Leroy D. Baca.
A CAIR Press Release adds: More than 2,000 people turned out Saturday, October 30, for the 14th annual banquet of the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA). Another 700 watched the live web stream, made available for the first time, of the banquet program.
The event helped raise more than $450,000 to support CAIR-LA's civil rights and advocacy efforts.
This year's banquet was moderated by CAIR-LA Deputy Executive Director Ameena Qazi and Executive Committee Member Baraa Kahf. Opening remarks at the banquet were delivered by US Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), who encouraged Muslims to get civically engaged.
Dr. John Esposito, Professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, and Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Imam of At-Taqwa Mosque in New York, gave powerful keynote addresses on facing Islamophobic attacks with confidence and assertiveness and supporting civil rights advocacy work. "When we began to turn the corner with regard to the rights of African-Americans is when we began to use the word racism consistently to identify and condemn - as we do anti-Semitism and as we must do with regard to Islamophobia," said Dr. Esposito. He added, "We want to see an Administration that realizes that Islamophobia is now a word that has to be part of our lexicon; if you don't name it, it doesn't exist."
A highlight of the evening was CAIR-LA's engagement with Muslim youth, through the prism of Muslim Youth Leadership Program alumni.