Bay Area Muslim Community Honors Dr Agha Saeed
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
The United Muslims of America (UMA) hosted a lunch on June 9, 2013 at the Chandni Restaurant to honor Dr Agha Saeed, one of the founders of UMA who now chairs the American Muslim Alliance, a leading civil advocacy group.
In his opening speech, Shafi Refai, the UMA President, recalled his long association with Dr Saeed and said he started working with him in 1988 when he joined the board of UMA. “Dr Saeed was active with Democrat Party - setting up UMA’s hospitality suites in conventions, inviting the political candidates and other party members to the suite to discuss with them important issues.”
Refai said Dr Saeed left UMA and founded the American Muslims Alliance in 1994 and expanded his activities in American Muslim Alliance which is now a national political organization with numerous chapters in 31 states.
The UMA president pointed out that in the 2000 presidential election Dr Agha Saeed created an alliance of all major American Muslim organizations to coordinate the election activities that led to en bloc Muslim vote.
In 2003 Dr Agha Saeed created the American Muslim Task Force (AMT) on Civil Rights and Elections, a coalition of major American Muslim organizations to coordinate the election and civil rights activities.
Dr Saeed has always stood for the rights of individuals as well as that of the community, Shafi Refai said adding: “He stood by Dr Sami Al-Arain and Dr Afia Siddiqui during their trial periods when no one came close to them. He was the lone voice for their rights for fair trials. He raised consciousness among the community for their plight and raised funds for their defenses.”
Syed Rifat Mahmood, a UMA Board member and Founding President of American Institute of International Studies, hailed Dr Agha Saeed ’s brilliant leadership role in the American politics. He said Dr Agha Saeed has guided thousands of American Muslims and organized and founded many national Muslim organizations. “ In my opinion he has performed a remarkable role of leadership. He is a man of great courage to accept any political challenge in his life. He is fighting to fulfill the dream of Thomas Jefferson and we should all fight for justice, peace and security for all Americans. ”
Eric Swalwell, Jr., US Representative from California's new 15th congressional district, was the next speaker. Swalwell was elected in November 2012 by defeating incumbent Pete Stark, a fellow Democrat almost a half-century Swalwell's senior, who had held the office since 1973.
The Congressman presented to Dr Agha Seed Certificate Special Congressional Recognition for his lifetime commitment to the pursuit of democracy. “I applaud your dedication and sacrifice for your community and your country.”
The United Muslim of America (UMA) also presented a plaque to Dr Agha Saeed for his services to the community during the last three decades.
Others who addressed the audience and paid rich tributes to the services of Dr. Agha Saeed included: Javed Khan, board member of UMA and HDF; Iftekhar Hai, board member of UMA; Dr Hatem Bazian, President of American Muslims for Palestine; Mark Hinkle, Chair Libertarian Party; Tashie Zaheer, Founding President of the Urdu Academy of North America; Dr Abdul Majid, neurologist; Moina Shaeq, UMA Board Member and President of Muslim Support Network; Reshma Inamdar, Board Member and past president of the League of Women Voters, Fremont and Shan Saigol, President of the South Bay Islamic Center.
Dr Agha Saeed’s speech was read by Hazim Kira. Dr Saeed, in his speech, extensively spoke on the challenges faced by the Muslim community in the post- 9/11 era.
Poet Tashie Zaheer, who also chairs the Urdu Academy of North America, pointed out that Dr Agha Saeed not only truly believes in the American creed, “Liberty and justice for all”, but has dedicated his entire life to fighting social inequalities, injustices and civil rights violations. In an emotional speech, Tahie Zaheer described him as a humanist by temperament and a man of letters by passion, an educator by profession, a social reformer by conviction, and a true visionary of our times.
Shan Saigol pledged to continue the mission of Dr Agha Saeed and pointed out that the role of Muslim civil advocacy groups should be realized by the community. He added that millions of dollars are raised for establishing mosques in the US but very little money is raised for civil advocacy groups like American Muslim Alliance led by Dr Agha Saeed.
Moina Shaeq said she had the privilege to work with Dr Agha Saeed. She pointed out that Dr Saeed spearheaded the campaign against the USA Patriot Act that led to the California State Resolution SJR10 against the USA PATRIOT Act.
Dr Abdul Majid (neorologist) recalled his very old association with Dr Agha Saeed when he established an AMA chapter in Wisconsin.
Adeel Iqbal recalled his days with the AMA Youth Club launched to encourage the Muslim youth to participate in the national political process.
Dr Waheed Siddiqee, a senior community leader and Founding President of ARAM, perhaps stole the show by presenting a musical tribute to Dr Agha Saeed. Dr Siddiqee entertained the audience with his sitar rendition based on his special composition prepared for the occasion.
Dr Mohammad Nadeem, a well-known political activist, was the Master of Ceremony. The program began with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Zafir Shaeq, Board Member of UMA.
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