Press Releases

CAIR-LA: Japanese-American, Muslim Youth Exchange

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 3/31/09) – Beginning February 21, some 40 high school students from Southern California will learn about the Islamic and Japanese cultures, with topics ranging from ethnic identity, culture/religion, civil rights activism, and experiences following the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks.
The series of cultural program are the fist of their kind in the Southland, and serve to connect youth from the Japanese-American and American Muslim communities. The program is being organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC), Japanese American Citizens League – Pacific Southwest District (JACL-PSW) and Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR).

Some of the participants come from the cities of Claremont, Walnut, Corona, Rancho Palos Verdes, Yorba Linda, and Anaheim. Muslim participants are available for media interviews upon request.

WHAT: Bridging Communities Program, a four-day program meant to teach Muslim- and Japanese-American high school youth about each other’s heritage and experiences.
WHEN: On Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Feb. 21, March 14, April 4, April 25
WHERE: Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Islamic Center of Irvine, Little Tokyo, and Manzanar – a former Japanese American internment camp

The last day of Building Communities program will culminate in a trip to Manzanar National Historic Site. The Manzanar pilgrimage is intended to raise awareness of civil rights abuses in America’s past with the aim of preventing them from being repeated. Formerly known as “Manzanar War Relocation Center,” the central California site was one of ten internment camps that held more than 10,000 Japanese-American men, women, and children during the war. This year will mark the 40th anniversary of Manzanar Pilgrimage.
“It’s important for Muslim and Japanese youth to learn from each other’s struggles in efforts to advance the cause of civil rights in our nation,” said Affad Shaikh, civil rights manager at CAIR-LA.
SEE: Pilgrimage to Manzanar

Last year, CAIR-LA organized a group of more than 100 Muslims from Southern California to participate in the Manzanar visit. A documentary was subsequently made about the visit and the bonds that were formed between members of the Muslim and Japanese American communities.

SEE:CAIR-LA Documentary of 2008 Manzanar Pilgrimage

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.

CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847, 714-851-4851; E-Mail:


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