American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council
Holds Annual Conference

Buena Park, CA: It was a moment of pride for the Muslim community, especially the Pakistani women who are part of the American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council (AMWEC) to be recognized by all the law enforcement agencies of America, government agencies, Interfaith groups, peace builders, and civic leaders, as the leading voice for Muslim women in America. AMWEC came into being as a partnership with Muslim women and law enforcement. AMWEC being visionaries, decided to work hand in hand with law enforcement, government agencies, elected officials, civic and interfaith leaders as part of a combined outreach effort. The idea conceived in 2011, bore fruitful results and AMWEC was recently chosen to represent the LA #CVE Countering Violent Extremism where AMWEC’s President, Anila.

Ali spoke for Muslims as a part of the LA team, which indeed is a great honor bestowed on a Pakistani American woman. The event started with an introduction to AMWEC by Faryal Khan, AMWEC’s Vice President, and then followed by a color guard presentation by the LAPD and the national anthem of America, sung by Officer Tom Talbot. What was much needed was the interfaith invocation, where representatives from all three Abrahamic faiths prayed together for peace and well being of peoples. Chaplain Allisa Thomas- Newborn from the Jewish faith, Mr. Steve Gilliland from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Sister Atiya Karim and Brother Mohammad Khan. The common ground and unity in prayer was a good precursor to the event’s theme: Muslims and Their Role in Countering Violent Extremism. AMWEC’s president, Anila Ali, informed the audience of the role that AMWEC has been playing in the community and mainstream America to help build a resilient Muslim community that serves as a first line of defense against violent extremism. AMWEC’s directors work with shelters for domestic violence victims, in mosques, with non profits on educational projects, promote civic engagement with all government and non-government agencies and organizations, conduct food and toy drives with members of Congress and mainstream organizations, get people registered to vote, support and empower women and youth to enter the political arena, speak up for women’s rights and human rights and help enhance the image of the American Muslim women.

AMWEC is the first American Muslim women’s organization to have passed a resolution to counter violent extremism. Ali read the Resolution that was passed by the first Muslim organization in the nation: It reads: American Muslim women stand united with law enforcement, the government of the United States of America, Interfaith organizations, civic leaders in countering violent extremism. All our efforts will be focused on empowering the Muslims, especially women, to build a more resilient and informed community. We realize that the CVE framework is based on the foundation that civil rights and liberties of all Americans need to be protected. And thus this day, Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015, we the undersigned commit ourselves to building relationships that will foster nation building and be the first line of defense against extremism.”

Ali thanked Mr. Arif Mansuri of Pakistan Link and how Link has been at the forefront of journalism in America with its inclusion of all viewpoints.

AMWEC director, Ghazala Khan shared the flagship mentorship program that AMWEC has started. It will be a service provided free of charge to anyone who would like mentorship in any field. A mentor, an expert in all fields will be available to help and guide mentees to reach their goals, to advise AMWEC,and to connect mentees until they have achieved their goals. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was the first keynote speaker who was complimentary of the achievements of AMWEC. “I am delighted to see AMWEC president and the LA CVE Team that I met at The White House Summit.

AMWEC women are dynamic and I want to congratulate the women for passing the Resolution on countering violent extremism. She urged the Muslims that CVE was about saving our children from the extremist ideologies and encouraged everyone to work together. The next keynote was Stepahnie Yonekura, U.S. Attorney, who related her story of her family’s internment. Her story resonated with many women in the audience and they connected with her on a human level. Assistant Director In- Charge, FBI, David Bowdich talked about the role of his organization and how it has worked closely with Muslim to foil plots against the King Fahd mosques. He praised the women of AMWEC for taking leadership and partnering with FBI.

The third keynote was Congresswoman Judy Chu, who is a great friend of the Muslim community and as such was all praise for the women of AMWEC for being proactive and working to help Muslims integrate. She presented AMWEC an award for leadership and appreciated their work. The next part of the conference was the panel moderated by the President, Anila Ali.

Ali posed some tough questions to the panelists which included many of the speakers and also spanned a global perspective. The Consul general of Pakistan, Mr, Hamid Asghar Khan, Lorna Seitz, Director, The Legis Institute, whose done extensive work with empowering Pakistani women, then an Interfaith group with Professor Paula Garb from University of California, Irvine, Sande Hart (SARAH- 4HOPE)an Interfaith leader from Orange County, and President, COPAA Council of Pakistan American Affairs, Nasir Javed. The panel discussed ways in which Muslims can counter violent extremism, bigotry, and Islamophobia. The consensus was for Muslim women to get engaged in their children’s schools and to get involved in civic life through non-profit and Interfaith work. The panel discussion was very engaging, though long, attendees left with more clarity on why they should promote the CVE framework because it builds a resilient community which will serve as a first line of defense against violent extremism.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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