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CAIR-LA: Muslim Community Forum on ‘Crisis of ISIS’ Gets Robust Response

crisis-of-isis-nr(ANAHEIM, CA – 10/23/2014) — On the evening of Friday, October 17, the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA), in partnership with the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley (ICSGV) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), hosted an educational community forum on how to address the issue of ISIS and its negative effects on American Muslims and Muslims worldwide.

Panelists included CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, Shaykh Abu-Haitham of ICSGV, MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati, Dr. Muzammil Siqqidi, the religious director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, and Usman Asrar, the ICSGV youth advisor.

Over 200 attendees joined the event to learn and partake in the discussion that took place in the multipurpose room of the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley.

Shaykh Abu-Haitham opened the forum with welcoming remarks, thanking the attendees for their interest in joining the forum and educating themselves about the issue. The first panelist, Usman Asrar deconstructed the origins and cause of ISIS.

As one of the pioneer religious directors of North America, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, explained from a Muslim scholar's perspective how the extremist and violent ideology of ISIS contradicts Islam's teachings of mercy. He briefed the community on the joint effort of CAIR and the Fiqh Council of North America to issue a first-of-its-kind open letter in Arabic (with English translation) signed by more than 120 international Islamic scholars and prominent Muslim leaders refuting the ideology of that terrorist group. The 28-page open letter can be found here.

Following Dr. Siddiqi's speech, Hussam Ayloush addressed the issue on three fronts: the first is to have our imams and scholars continue to refute and challenge ISIS's deviant and destructive ideology. The second is to understand the role and responsibility American Muslims have to work with fellow Americans to pressure our president and Congress not to support foreign governments that engage in occupation, human rights violations and repression. Lastly, Ayloush stressed that a preventative and proactive approach is for our communities, especially our youth, to become more civically engaged and take advantage of the training and opportunities available to better equip themselves to address legitimate grievances by advocating for justice here and abroad. 

Salam Al-Marayati ended the discussion stating that the American Muslim community can contribute to the accurate portrayal of Islam by leading through example in their daily interactions with others and become well integrated as a community to positively influence public perception and public policy.

The forum was followed by a question and answer session moderated by CAIR-LA's public affairs coordinator, Haroon Manjlai. Attendees asked a wide spectrum of questions related to the topic, making for a lively discussion.

“Discussion forums like these serve as a platform to educate and empower our communities to respond to issues of such a scale with confidence and clarity,” said Ayloush. “The very positive response we received for this event affirms that our community has a genuine desire to advance peace and justice here and abroad guided by the true teachings of Islam.”    

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Ojaala Ahmad, 714.778.1847 or oahmad@cair.com

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