Community Engagement Workshop
By Tami Shaikh
On June 15 2013, COPAA organized a "Community Engagement Workshop" at Ashiana Restaurant in Diamond Bar. The event was attended by a large number of parents and community youth.
The event started with the address of COPAA President Adnan Khan who talked about Community Emergency Response Team ("CERT"), an initiative launched by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA. CERT educates people about disaster preparedness for emergencies that affect their
area, and teaches them basic disaster response skills, including fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Adnan urged members to undergo the requisite training and be actively involved in this disaster preparedness initiative offered by COPAA, Homeland Security and FEMA.
T he second part of the event was an informative talk given by Qazi Asad, COPAA community advisor, who talked about "Islamic Teachings against Homegrown Terror."
He started by appreciating the efforts of all COPAA members who work diligently working for the betterment of the Pakistani Americans. Qazi first discussed the meanings of homegrown terror and informed that the issue of radicalization in the American Muslim community is on the rise. He went on to say that the issue wasn't with Islam as a religion, the main problem lies with the evil twin of Islam called" Fundamentalism".
He also cleared some common myths that radical Muslims today believe in. Qazi Asad addressed parents and children and told them about the dangers of unsupervised Internet usage, how some groups are trying to lure teens and youngsters into believing that radicalism is the way to pursue. He said that the problems we face today have always been around; this is not the first time our religion has had to deal with defamation. As American Muslims, he felt that we need to revisit the past and see what our Prophet Mohammed would do in a situation like this. Would he encourage people to blow themselves up or think negatively about their homeland? Qazi Asad emphasized the need to educate our younger generation about the real Islam. He talked about how speaking up for what's right is the best solution.
A young lady got up and spoke about her struggles at school where she faced discrimination. She said that she was running for student council president and some students started to call her names and refused to vote for her. She complained to the Principal. When the school wanted to punish the students, she asked for them and other students to be educated instead of being punished. She organized a meeting of religious representatives (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist) to come to the school and talk to the students about different religions. In the end this young girl did make a difference, just as Mr. Qazi said "The ultimate weapon against radicalization is an educated mind".
The workshop ended with a panel discussion where community members expressed their concerns. The panel was made up of Ismail KeeKeebhai, Anila Ali, Adnan Khan and Qazi Asad.
The COPAA board members present were: Adnan Khan- President of COPAA; Ismail Keekeebhai- VP of COPAA; Sameer Moosani - Youth Coordinator COPAA; Nighat Kardar -Director of COPAA; Dr. Nighat Sarwar - Director of COPAA; Dr Bina Kamdar - Director of COPAA; Anila Ali - President of AMWEC and past COPAA board member; Dr Ashraf Kamdar - President of MONA; Tina Khan- Board of Directors AMWEC, SAHARA; Dr Nadeem Cheshti Community Medical Advisor and Javed Kardar ICGGV.
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