Youth in America learn from mentors in communities. With this in mind, the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) offered their first internship opportunities since inception of the organization in May 2007. Internships were offered for undergraduate and graduate students. Three young people from Oklahoma City were chosen to learn skills to make a difference and are mid-way through the program.
Adam Bates, CAIR-OK’s Civil Rights Intern, has a B.A. in political science and is currently pursuing a J.D. and an M.A. in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Michigan. “The fact that [civil rights] is unpopular is why it’s important to me. Anytime the government goes to war, those are the peoples whose civil rights are being violated,” said Bates, who is interested in civil liberties work for CAIR as well as protecting the rights of the individual and American Muslims. “Whether it’s legislators turning down gifts or telling people they can’t wear head scarves, there is no penalty for that,” adds Bates. “It’s a worthy cause for people to defend those rights for Muslims.”
Faheem Fazili serves as the Governmental Affairs Intern. “I think my experience has been a hybrid being Muslim and not being raised in an Islamic society,” said Fazili. “I find that jobs and such push me away from my culture. CAIR attracted me because I am interested and invested in it; because it affects my community directly.” Fazili, a student at Cornell University, is interested in political science and Islamic relations in America. He plans to attend law school after completing his degrees in history and government.
Last but not least is Amrish Sengupta, CAIR-OK’s Communications Intern. “This internship has helped me to develop my communication skills. Working to promote Islam, unity and dialog has also been very educational and I have been humbled by the experience,’ said Sengupta. “I am a Christian but I wanted to work with CAIR to understand and extend the hand of love to the Muslim community from my church.” Sengupta is a poet and studies political science at Oklahoma City University.
The interns were given projects both at the facility and in the community, including workshops, educational campaigns, and training sessions at mosques and community centers. They have worked with governmental officials, media professionals, academic, interfaith and civic leaders on substantive projects to lay the foundation for a fair and more inclusive America. (More)