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Mosques urged to hold open houses
CAIR is calling on Mosques nationwide to hold open houses for people of other faiths in their local communities to help promote a better understanding of Islam and Muslims. A step-by-step guide to holding an open house is available on CAIR’s web site at: http://www.cair-net.org/downloads/aa311openhouse1.pdf
“Following the tragic events of September 11, and the anti-Muslim backlash that followed, it is clear that people of other faiths in this society are in need of accurate information about Islam, said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad asked imams and mosque leaders to schedule an open house as soon as possible. (NOTE: Because of recent events, make sure to request proper security for the event from local police.)
STEPS NECESSARY TO HOLD A MOSQUE OPEN HOUSE
1. PREPARE the members of your local community by explaining the necessity of building a positive image of the mosque in the surrounding area. Let them know that experience of other communities has shown that a positive neighborhood image offers many benefits. Ask for input concerning the details of when and at what time the open house should be held. There are no hard and fast rules for such things.
2. INVITE local community leaders, clergy, law enforcement officials, activists, and government officials. Remember to invite the mayor, congressional representatives, the chief of police and members of the city council. These people should all receive written invitations. Follow up with a personal phone call. Letters are not enough.
3. PUBLICIZE the event by sending a well-written news release (see sample in kit) to the local media. You may also place paid advertisements in the local newspaper (see sample). Send the news release to the religion calendar editor, the city editor, the feature editor at the newspaper, and the “daybook” editor at the nearest bureau of the Associated Press. Send a release to the assignment editor at the local television stations. Also send copies to news directors at the local radio stations. Send announcements to local houses of worship. (see “Media Event Check List” in kit)
4. INFORM your guests of mosque etiquette before they arrive (see “Welcome to Our Mosque” brochure). This will make them feel at ease and avoid embarrassment. Be ready to answer questions about prayer, separation of men and women and other common issues.
5. CLEAN the mosque. The first impression is one that will last. Make sure bathrooms are spotless. Have a mosque clean up day prior to the open house. Consider touching up areas that need painting.
6. SET UP a reception area where guests can be received, told about mosque etiquette and served refreshments. Have greeters at the door to direct arriving guests. Have knowledgeable people conduct tours of the facility. Do not leave guests alone to wander about the mosque. Give each guest a nametag. Make sure sisters are available to make female guests feel welcome.
7. PROVIDE snacks and drinks to make your guests feel welcome. Serving a variety of ethnic dishes is an excellent introduction to the diversity of our community.
8. SELECT literature to be given to the guests. Do not push materials on guests. Let them select what they wish to read. (see “Islam in America - The Facts,” and “Q&A About Islam and American Muslims”)
9. POST signs at appropriate locations in the facility to help guests find their way around. Many of them have never been to a mosque before.
10. PRAY that your efforts will open the hearts of your guests.
CAIR's dinner in DC is sold out
Alhamdulillah (praise be to God), CAIR’s October 7 annual dinner with Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) in Washington, D.C., is sold out. More than 1,000 tickets have already been sold, and more are being requested. (We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.) “This overwhelming show of support is an indication that Muslims appreciate the efforts of all of the Islamic organizations during this time of national crisis,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad asked those who are unable to obtain tickets for the dinner to show their support by making a generous donation. (See form below.)
In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, CAIR worked to meet the needs of victims, their families and the Muslim community. On the day of the attacks, CAIR, as part of the American Muslim Political Coordination Council and along with other national Muslim groups, issued a strong condemnation and called on Muslims to offer any possible assistance. On September 12, CAIR's leadership participated in a press conference in front of George Washington University Hospital urging American Muslims to donate blood. At this same time, CAIR established a “Crisis Center” on its web site (www.cair-net.org) and initiated daily news updates to the community and the media. CAIR’s staff and budget are stretched to the limit.
As reports of anti-Muslim backlash began to surface, CAIR faxed letters to all members of Congress and to the president asking them to support American Muslims. CAIR also issued an alert recommending a variety of safety precautions for mosques.
On September 14, CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad attended the national interfaith service with President Bush held at the Washington Cathedral. CAIR’s Nihad Awad, along with other Muslim leaders, met with President Bush to discuss Muslim issues and concerns.
On September 16, CAIR printed a full-page ad in the "A" section of the Washington Post. This ad condemned the attack, offered condolences to the victims and their families, and applauded the efforts of relief workers. To date, CAIR's staff has processed more than 700 reports of anti-Muslim incidents since the attacks. This initial figure is more than two times the number of incidents CAIR receives in an entire year.
During the crisis, CAIR has been working non-stop with the national and international media. A partial list of media outlets that have interviewed CAIR National since September 11 includes: ABC Nightline, Newsweek, Associated Press, CBC Radio, New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Fox News, NBC, CBS, CNN, People Magazine, Gannett News Service, BBC, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, the Newshour with Jim Leher, Religion News Service, Bloomberg News, San Francisco Chronicle, US News & World Report, the Detroit Free Press, and dozens (perhaps hundreds) of other local and national print or broadcast media outlets. CAIR and other groups also called on mosques nationwide to hold open houses to present a positive image of Islam and the Muslim community.
Post Office to reprint poster that excluded Eid stamp
“The U.S. Postal Service today is reproducing its Holiday Stamp promotional posters in local post offices in response to recent concerns raised by the American Muslim community.
“Due to an oversight, an image of the Eid stamp, which commemorates two important Islamic festivals, was left off the promotional posters.
“The Postal Service deeply regrets the oversight and is reprinting the holiday posters depicting the Eid stamp image in local post offices. Eid stamps will be available for sale at post offices nationwide this Holiday season. These historic stamps are featured prominently on the Postal Service's web site and are available for purchase online at the Postal Store www.usps.com, or by calling toll free 1-800 STAMP-24.”
Congressman says "arrest every Muslim that crosses the state line"
Rep. C. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security and a candidate for the Senate, yesterday sought to play down remarks to Georgia law enforcement personnel suggesting they "just turn [the sheriff] loose and have him arrest every Muslim that crosses the state line."
In a letter to the Valdosta Daily Times, Chambliss contended that his comments were taken "out of context" and "should in no way be interpreted as my view of what should happen…If my remarks were offensive in any way, I apologize."
…Chambliss, according to sources in Valdosta, personally sought to persuade the reporter, Bill Roberts, to kill the story using his remarks, and asked the local sheriff to help block publication. An aide to Chambliss said he did not know what the congressman did in connection with the story.
Chambliss, in his letter to the Valdosta paper, said he agrees "wholeheartedly with remarks made by President Bush expressing the sentiment that this war is against terrorism -- not Muslims...I regret that any comments I made might have been misconstrued and misrepresented my true intentions and beliefs concerning this issue. Those of the Muslim faith or Arabic heritage are not our enemies. Terrorists are our enemy..."
Reach out to neighbors and co-workers during Eid ul-Fitr
As-salaamu alaykum (peace to you). As the blessed month of Ramadan moves to its end, we have an excellent opportunity to reach out to our neighbors and co-workers during Eid ul-Fitr.
FOR NEIGHBORS: Invite your neighbors on the day of Eid (or if not possible, the day after) for a light meal. The goal is to have an opportunity to build rapport with our neighbors through the sharing of food and a holiday. Alternatively, you can give some sweets, snacks and/or some other gift (Islamic decorations, books or other items) you believe reflect in some way our diverse Islamic culture. Coordinate with other Muslim families in your area.
FOR CO-WORKERS: As Eid will most likely fall on the weekend (December 15th or 16th), take some traditional sweets to work on the following Monday and put them on your desk for colleagues to sample. Let others in your office know about the availability of the sweets be e-mail. Once they come to your desk, be prepared to answer basic questions about the importance of Eid ul-Fitr and how it relates to Ramadan.
If you have Muslim co-workers, coordinate with them so that each of you takes care of a certain department or work group. The idea is to make the sharing personal, so it is best to limit efforts to a specific group and let your Muslim co-workers handle their own areas. If you want to announce something company-wide, get approval first.
REPORT RESULTS: Please report the results of your Eid outreach activities to CAIR so that we may let others know. E-MAIL: [email protected] FAX: 202-488-0833