Muslim American Appreciation and Awareness Month at the California State Capitol
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The California State Assembly was full of activity on Monday, August 21, 2017 as the esteemed members of the legislature on the floor, along with representatives of the area Muslim community in the balcony, witnessed another significant milestone as possibly the first Muslim-American judge in our Golden State, Judge Halim Dhanidina was honored.
That, along with a recognition of the continuing contributions of Muslims in California (for the second time) as August was once again proclaimed “Muslim American Appreciation and Awareness Month” in the State of California. In that regard this year the California State Assembly welcomed House Resolution 43 (HR 43) introduced by three democrats from the San Francisco bay area, Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), Assemblymembers Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) and Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), who authored the bill to recognize the month of August 2017 as a month for recognizing the positives of the Muslim presence in the state.
Assemblymember Quirk who has spearheaded this effort from the very beginning said that California is a state with the largest number of Muslim Americans and that their contributions in science, entertainment and medicine extend both nationally and globally. They have given their lives in battle to defend our freedom, they have been leaders in the sciences, they are Olympic medalists, and are public servants. Unfortunately, the Muslim community has been and continues to be a target of harassment, discrimination and assaults. Mosques have continued to be targets of vandalisms and recently in Minnesota a bombing has taken place. California is a state which is successful because of its diverse population. It is important that we acknowledge and honor all the communities which make California a better place to live and work. Now, more than ever, it is important to stand united against hate and to send a message that in California, we do not tolerate hate. This is why I am proud to present this resolution to recognize and appreciate the Muslim community for all that they have done, and will continue to do, to make this state and country great, said Quirk. He also took the opportunity to introduce Judge Halim Dhanidina and presented a copy of a resolution to him on the Assembly floor.
Assemblymember Ash Kalra added his words of encouragement and said that the Muslim community is very diverse and inclusive of Indians, and Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Sacramento-Elk Grove) followed and pointed out that African Americans also constitute a large percentage of the Muslim population in the state. At last glance House Resolution 43 (HR 43) had 54 supporters and did not receive any “No” votes.
Just to quote a few lines here from the House Resolution 43 here (which was introduced on June 6, 2017):
WHEREAS, Freedom of religion holds distinction as a cherished right and a fundamental value upon which the law and ethics of the United States are based; and WHEREAS, Enriched by the unparalleled diversity of its residents, the State of California takes great pride in supporting individual religious freedoms and is strengthened by the diverse religious, political and cultural traditions of its residents, including Americans who practice Islam; and
WHEREAS, Approximately one million Muslim Americans currently reside in California, the highest number of any state in the United States;
At a reception that followed in Room 125 at the Capitol the gathering was briefly addressed by Judge Halim Dhanidina, CAIR-Sacramento Executive Director Basim Elkarra, and last but not least Sister Moina Shaiq. Sister Shaiq whose “Meet A Muslim” effort has been instrumental in getting the voice of our community into the mainstream needs to be commended for being a good role model (along with a few others) for Assemblymember Bill Quirk for his making “Muslim American Appreciation and Awareness Month” a reality at the State Capitol. Our community needs to extend our thanks to women like her, Sister Samina Sundas (American Muslim Voice), many CAIR activists, and a number of other sisters in Islam in America for their hard work and dedication on our behalf.