(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 10/7/13) -- On Friday, October 4, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) received the 2013 Difference Makers Award from the American Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division for “making a difference through pro bono work.” The awards ceremony took place in Lexington, Kentucky.
Last year, CAIR-MN handled 180 pro bono cases of discrimination, hate and bias, assisting nearly 500 Minnesotans. Cases include school bullying and harassment, land use opposition, hate crimes and vandalism, racial and religious profiling, and extra-judicial exile. The majority of the cases involve employment discrimination, including discrimination in hiring and firing, hostile work environments, and denial of religious accommodation.
In one case, CAIR-MN attorneys assisted a Muslim woman who was denied a hijab accommodation because her supervisor was angry about her religious conversion. In another, they assisted Somali refugees who were called “stupid liars” at work and were told they could not take their legal breaks. They assisted Muslim employees who were called “terrorists” and “monkeys” at work and who were fired when they complained about the hostile environment.
When accepting the award, CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla told the audience about the first case she worked on at CAIR-MN in which 40 clients were fired after enduring racial slurs, unequal pay and denial of religious accommodations in the workplace.
Abd Alla said, "When we start seeing each other's abilities and potential can we truly fulfill our Founding Fathers’ dreams and become the greatest nation in the world."
In August 2013, CAIR-MN was named a “Nonprofit to Know” by Minnesota Philanthropy Partners (MPP). MPP is a network of foundations, funds and organizations that share knowledge and services to make charitable giving thrive and benefit all Minnesotans.
In 2011, CAIR-MN received the Mission & Excellence Anti-Racism Award from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) and MAP for Nonprofits. The annual “Mission & Excellence” awards are given to six non-profit organizations that make “outstanding contributions to Minnesota's high quality of life.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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