Sabiha Khan is the new executive director of the Orlando chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil-liberties group. Born in Los Angeles to Pakistani immigrants, Khan, 29, was CAIR’s communications director in Los Angeles before relocating to Orlando this summer to be with her new husband. She spoke recently with Sentinel reporter Babita Persaud.

You say that bridge-building between the Muslim and non-Muslim community is a goal for you in Orlando. What do you mean by that?
So much misinformation is out there. We want to clear it up. We’ve gotten good feedback from the Muslim community in Orlando. They are hungry to move forward. They want to let people know about themselves and see CAIR as a vehicle to get the word out.

I’d like to get your thoughts on some recent news items: What about Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, taking the oath of office soon on the Quran?

It is supposed to be a proud moment, to show that we are part and parcel of the fabric of this country. There are other officials who swore on nothing or swore on the Torah.

The six imams who were asked to leave a US Airways flight recently after they prayed?

It was a lesson in not enough education. If someone knew the Muslim prayer is five times a day and that Muslims try to make those prayers . . . There is a rumor mill about these imams, that they were on the plane, that they were shouting Allahu akbar, (God is great). They have denied everything. They did it at the gate, before getting on the plane. Someone reported it to the airline, and when they were on the plane, they were escorted out. Not given another flight even after nothing was found.


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