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CAIR-Alabama: Muslim Advocacy Group Speaks Out on Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Cancellation of Angela Davis Award

(BIRMINGHAM, AL, 1/11/2019) – The Alabama Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights group, released a statement on Friday regarding the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s recent decision to revoke the Fred Shuttlesworth award from Dr. Angela Davis.

SEE: Angela Davis’s response to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Board of Directors decision about her award

“The Alabama Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-AL) stands in solidarity with Dr. Angela Davis, an internationally recognized civil and human rights icon and community activist. She has always spoken truth to power. Whether addressing oppression and exploitation in the United States or geopolitical conflicts abroad, she has been a consistent voice for the downtrodden, and we understand that it is precisely this legacy that led the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) to award her the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award.

“Three months following the announcement of Dr. Davis’s award, the BCRI board, in closed session, abruptly decided to rescind the award and cancel the awards dinner, releasing a vague statement that alleged Dr. Davis “does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based.” This decision comes after objections were raised by some over Dr. Davis’s support for Palestine and her criticism of Israel’s use of excessive military force, as well as U.S. support for such actions. Her stance on this issue has not changed in the past three months, and BCRI knew her position when it originally announced the award. The revocation represents an abandonment of the principles upon which the BCRI was founded.

“Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this decision is the implication that any criticism of Israel is tantamount to anti-Semitism. This is a dangerous fallacy. CAIR-AL has always advocated for intersectional movement building and has been involved in a number of interfaith projects in Birmingham. Such advocacy has fostered a sincere and close friendship with the Jewish community, with whom we have marched, mourned and broken bread together. We reiterate our support for the Jewish community, and we also express our support for Angela Davis. She has every right, and in fact the responsibility, to use her platform to call out injustice whether it is happening in America or in Israel. It is deeply distressing that the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is not doing the same.

“We hope that BCRI’s actions will lead to serious discussion in our community about what happened, and how we can do better in the future. CAIR-AL is already planning a number of community conversations and we look forward to being a part of any future dialogue.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.


CONTACT: CAIR-Alabama Government Affairs Coordinator Ali Massoud at 262-501-1331 or 

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