Nihad Awad: American Muslims Are Making History

ISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues. ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Please consider the following commentary for publication.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Manager Naaz Modan, nmodan@cair.com, 202-748-4319; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com

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Nihad Awad: American Muslims Are Making History 
By Nihad Awad

[Nihad Awad is national executive director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. He may be contacted at: nawad@cair.com ]

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American Muslims are making history.

The unprecedented level of civic engagement and grassroots effort displayed by more than 90 Muslim political candidates and their supporters ended in victories for many last month.

Nine Somali-American, Arab-American, South Asian and African-American Muslim candidates from Minnesota won a series of primaries. Among them was Ilhan Omar -- a former refugee -- who won the Democratic primary in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.


CAIR ISLAM-OPED: Al Jazeera Documentary is an Invaluable Exposé of Multi-Million-Dollar Islamophobia Network

ISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues. ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Please consider the following commentary for publication.

CONTACT: ihooper@cair.com

TEL: Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726

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Nihad Awad: Al Jazeera Documentary is an Invaluable Exposé of Multi-Million-Dollar Islamophobia Network

By Nihad Awad

nihad awad[Nihad Awad is national executive director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties group. He may be contacted at: nawad@cair.com ]

“I almost died. Just because I was Muslim.”

Freedom of religion is a fundamental American ideal, and yet, after a game of basketball, Abdirahman Hassan was violently attacked and shot at because of his faith while walking to a car to go home in Minnesota. He was with several of his friends when a man said to them “f*** Muslims.” A couple minutes later, after they got in their car and were about to drive away, the man repeated his insult and fired shots at their car, injuring two of the young men. This is just one of many horrifying instances of anti-Muslim hate experienced by American Muslims.

“Islamophobia Inc.,” an Al Jazeera documentary released today, provides an invaluable look into the multi-million-dollar Islamophobia Network and traces the sources and effects of the hateful and fearmongering movement that seeks to cast Islam and Muslims as a malevolent existential threat, and instigates prejudice, discrimination, and oppression towards the faith and its practitioners.

SEE: Islamophobia Inc, Al Jazeera Investigations

The Islamophobia Network has promoted fringe, false, and conspiratorial ideas about Muslims and Islam, and used the internet to make them mainstream. This demonization of an entire religious community has made it easier to commit violence against American Muslims.

This is evidenced in the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) one-of-its-kind 2018 civil rights report, Targeted, which documented a 15 percent increase in hate crimes targeting American Muslim communities in 2017 over 2016, and a 17 percent rise in anti-Muslim bias incidents nationwide in the same time period.

The anti-Muslim industry, including hate groups like ACT for America and the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and individuals like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, paints a facade of Islam as a threat and uses it to maliciously misguide Americans into fearing Muslims. The Islamophobia Network works to silence and bully American Muslim communities in an effort to prevent them from exercising their fundamental constitutional right of active political engagement in the United States.

Additionally, the Islamophobia Network has close ties with the Trump administration. The administration’s blatant peddling of dangerous and dehumanizing anti-Muslim rhetoric and its advancement of discriminatory and unconstitutional anti-Muslim policies have been directly informed by the Network.

One example of this close relationship is evidenced in the unconstitutional Muslim Ban. In his original dictate for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” President Trump cited a defective and inaccurate poll by the extremist anti-Muslim hate group CSP, which was founded by Frank Gaffney, an influential Islamophobe on Capitol Hill and a core node of the Islamophobia Network. CAIR's 2018 civil rights report, Targeted, finds that 464 anti-Muslim incidents documented last year related to the unconstitutional "Muslim Ban" executive orders.

Overall, the report found that federal government agencies instigated more than a third of all anti-Muslim bias incidents in 2017. That is unprecedented.

It is important to remember, however, that those that seek to spread hate and fear are not unchallenged. Every day, Americans like you and I are fighting to ensure that our constitutional rights – to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to politically engage –  are protected, and that we all not only live, but thrive in an America that is true to its ideals of equality and fairness. 

In light of this, tomorrow, Tuesday, May 15, CAIR will hold a Congressional briefing co-hosted by Congresswoman Judy Chu to highlight the troubling findings of the 2018 report, Targeted, which offers data on the impact of and legal pushback against anti-Muslim bias across the United States in the past year.

It is important that we hold our elected officials and our civic and religious leaders accountable and encourage them to use their platforms to make statements reminding fellow Americans of our shared values. Our elected officials and our religious and civic leaders should not provide platforms to anti-Muslim hate groups that promote Islamophobia and spread words of hate.

Rather, let us work together to shape a society in which all Americans enjoy their fundamental right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

 


A Prayer to Close Guantanamo

Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege to open the 16th Anniversary Prayer Vigil that demanded the closure of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When a colleague asked me if I wanted to give the prayer remarks, I was excited and immediately said yes. 


CAIR ISLAM-OPED: Government’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Approach Continues to Single Out Muslims

CAIR National logoISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues. ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Please consider the following commentary for publication.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

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Government’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Approach Continues to Single Out Muslims

By CAIR Government Affairs Coordinator Amineh Safi (aSafi@cair.com)


CAIR: The Trump White House Ramadan Celebration That Wasn’t

ISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues. ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Please consider the following commentary for publication.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

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nihad awadThe Trump White House Ramadan Celebration That Wasn’t

By Nihad Awad

[Nihad Awad is national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. He may be contacted at nawad@cair.com.]

President Donald Trump just ended the almost 20-year White House tradition of marking the Islamic month-long fast of Ramadan by not hosting a celebratory “iftar” (fast-breaking) dinner. This year also marks the first time since 1999 that the State Department failed to officially host a Ramadan dinner. Such a break in American tradition and values reflects the Trump administration’s outright hostility toward the American Muslim community and its discomfort in acknowledging that Muslims are a part of our nation.


CAIR: Columnist’s Anti-Islam Diatribe Ignores Words of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad

[NOTE: An edited version of this commentary was published today by the Washington Times. SEE: True Islam Teaches Equality]

By Ibrahim Hooper

[Ibrahim Hooper is national communications director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. He may be contacted at ihooper@cair.com]

In her recent anti-Islam diatribe masquerading as a legitimate condemnation of female genital mutilation (FGM) [“The Islam clash in America,” The Washington Times, April 18, 2017], Cheryl K. Chumley made a number of ill-informed, inaccurate and offensive statements about Islam and Muslims.


CAIR MLK Day Commentary: The African-American Women Behind the Heroes

Author: Jimmy Jones

[Jimmy E. Jones is Secretary of the national board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Professor of World Religions and African Studies at Manhattanville College. He may be contacted at:jjones@cair.com]

For African-Americans, the annual time period between Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday on January 15th and the end of February is bittersweet. This is because we hear quite a bit about Dr. King’s legacy and the importance of Black History for about six weeks, only to be shunted aside again on March 1st of every year.

Nevertheless, we rightly remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a genuine American hero. So was recently departed astronaut and senator John Glenn, the first American in space.

Yet neither of these men could have soared to the heights that they did without the passionate, persistent, consistent, and competent help of women who just happened to be African-American.

In John Glenn’s case, the full story of these women was finally told in the book “Hidden Figures,” written by Margot Lee Shetterly and released as a Hollywood film with the same title.

Mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson made calculations that were invaluable to the success and safety of America’s first manned space flight by our hero John Glenn.

I am a bit familiar with the racial mores of the part of the country in which these women worked. The Langley Research Center is located in Hampton, Va., near where I spent four years (1964-68) as an undergraduate at the overwhelmingly Black Hampton University.


May America Be True to Her Dream

Nihad Awad 7 2 15By Nihad Awad

[Nihad Awad is national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. He may be contacted at nawad@cair.com.]

This Fourth of July weekend, friends and families around the country will gather together to celebrate the freedoms we cherish as Americans, those for which countless generations have struggled and sacrificed so much. 

We celebrate our freedom from oppression, freedom to practice our religion, representation in our government, and self-determination. 

Yet as recent events targeting African-Americans have made abundantly clear, we still have a long way to go to achieve full equality under the flag we will fly high this weekend. 


The Reality of Islamophobia in America

Corey-SaylorBy Corey Saylor

Word count: 745

Thirty-seven groups dedicated to spreading anti-Islam prejudice in America enjoyed access to at least $119,662,719 in total revenue between 2008 and 2011, according to a new report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).


Muslims Mark 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

NihadBy Nihad Awad
Word Count: 618

In one of his most famous statements, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

On the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, it is time to reflect on Dr. King's words and examine where we stand as a nation on the issues of justice and mutual understanding.

Dr. King's struggle for justice must be carried on by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds, because that is what he taught and demonstrated through his life's work.