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CAIR: Muslim Civil Rights Group Offers Thanksgiving Day Commentary

CAIR logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/25/15) – The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today offered a Thanksgiving Day commentary for publication by media outlets nationwide.

CAIR’s commentary (SEE BELOW), titled “Remember the Refugees at the First Thanksgiving,†is being offered through ISLAM-OPED, a syndication service 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.

CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, with offices nationwide. 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.

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

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ISLAM-OPED: Remember the Refugees at the First Thanksgiving

By Nihad Awad

This Thursday, friends and family will gather to commemorate the resettlement of the first wave of refugees to what would become the United States. While we as a nation are now more cognizant of the terrible toll this resettlement took on the native inhabitants of the land, we also recognize that the resulting ethnic and religious diversity of America is unique in all the world.

In the midst of eating turkey and stuffing around the dinner table, we will be reminded that, at its core, America is a land of immigrants, a nation comprised of innumerable waves of men, women and children fleeing oppression and seeking a better life.

The history of our country is one defined by overlapping layers in which new groups of individuals have joined our national fabric and given it new shape through their cultural, artistic and intellectual contributions.

As we come together on this day to celebrate the tremendous blessings we enjoy as Americans, we must therefore also remember our shared work of fighting for freedom, equality and dignity for all people, regardless of their national, ethnic or religious background.

As the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), I believe strongly in the values and principles on which our country was founded, established by the descendants of those first refugees fleeing discrimination in their homeland.

They sought to create a country in which anyone could be welcome, their contributions valued and where freedom and justice would be the law of the land.  For more than 20 years, and to this very day, CAIR has worked tirelessly in support of these founding principles. We are proud of what we have accomplished, but recognize that much still remains to be done to make them a reality for all Americans.

In the days and weeks leading up to this day of thanks, we have seen a darkening of the tone on the place of American Muslims.  We have witnessed a Christian Ethiopian immigrant in North Carolina being threatened and beaten after being mistaken for a Muslim; we have seen airlines remove passengers because of their racial background or spoken language; we have watched as a pregnant Muslim woman was assaulted on the street in San Diego while pushing her child in a stroller; and we have seen too many mosques vandalized, shot at, threatened, and defaced by those who say that Islam has no place within America – the same rhetoric that has too often been leveled at Jewish, Catholic, Irish, and African-Americans.

Tragically, even those who hold or seek public office have turned this hatred against the newest wave of refugees seeking shelter in our land.  Descendants of immigrants who came to our country seeking a better life have forgotten their past, and now turn their backs on Syrian refugees fleeing the horrors of ISIS on one side, and the brutality of the Assad regime on the other.

Groups such as the coalition of governors who demanded that President Obama suspend Syrian refugee resettlement coldly ignore the plight of innocent children who have the potential to become our next generation of doctors, lawyers, engineers, and elected officials. They place no confidence in our country’s robust system for vetting newcomers and they forget that some of the greatest contributors to American society, such as Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Steve Jobs’ father (himself Syrian) have also been refugees from hostile countries.

They would sacrifice our shared humanity on the false altar of security, unable to understand the core truth that these values can only exist when they exist together.

On this day, I encourage us all to not only be thankful for the blessings we enjoy as Americans, but to recall the circumstances surrounding the first Thanksgiving: a huddled group of newcomers, fleeing persecution, giving thanks for the generosity of their hosts in a challenging new world.

Today, I invite you to join us in gratitude for all that we enjoy in this land, and to share in our efforts to make this bounty available to all.

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