CAIR-LA Celebrates 15 Years of Service
Anaheim, CA: The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations will commemorate its 15 th year anniversary on Saturday, November 5 th at the Hilton Anaheim. The event will not only highlight the great strides CAIR-LA has made on behalf of the Southern California Muslim community in the past 15 years, but will also look to setting the hope and goals for the future.
The event will honor Aasif Mandvi with the ‘Courage in Media’ award for speaking out against bigotry and calls for marginalization of American Muslims. The event will also honor composer and pianist Malek Jandali for his advocacy for freedom and human rights around the world through his composition ‘Watani Ana.’
The founding of the local office of CAIR in 1996 was based in a vision that the American Muslim community’s presence and contributions should extend to all facets of American civic life. CAIR-LA, one of the oldest and largest CAIR offices in the country, was established by a group of volunteers in Southern California who thought a different kind of Muslim organization was needed to fill a void, not served by other groups or organizations. They hoped to launch an organization that would work to uphold civil rights of American Muslims, foster a better understanding of the Islamic faith and its followers, and help find avenues for Muslims to integrate more fully into the broader society.
Over the years, CAIR-LA has become a leading national voice advocating on critical issues for American Muslims, from challenging sportswear giant Nike on its shoe design that resembled Allah (God) in Arabic script, to helping pass ‘Halal Food’ legislation in the state, to making sure the LAPD withdrew its ‘mapping’ of Muslims based on religiosity and First Amendment rights, to challenging broad surveillance and monitoring of Muslims by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, such as the FBI and the CIA.
Over the past few years, the organization’s work has gained more prominence among national civil liberties groups, institutions and advocates as it has sought legal redress for discriminatory policies against Muslims, such as filing suit on behalf of immigrants who wanted to become citizens but still had to wait years to be granted citizenship, because of the so-called ‘name checks.’ CAIR-LA also filed an unprecedented class-action lawsuit this year, in conjunction with the ACLU Southern California and law firm Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick LLP to call attention to the illegal surveillance of Southern California Muslims.
“The CAIR-LA office was started because we believed that American Muslims must step out of our bubble, refuse to be in a victimized mentality, share their responsibility to engage our fellow Americans and educate them about Islam, and promote freedom, justice, and dialogue,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush.