CAIR Fundraiser Spotlights Civil Rights

By Hanley, Delinda C. | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, August 2005 | Go to article overview

CAIR Fundraiser Spotlights Civil Rights


Hanley, Delinda C., Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


The Maryland/Virginia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held an awards and fund-raising banquet June 4 at the Sheraton Premier hotel in Tysons Corner, VA. The audience heard a presentation about Bridges Television, North America's first Muslim cable/ satellite channel, which is now available in the Washington, DC area. This Englishlanguage nationwide television channel provides entertainment and programming to American Muslims and non-Muslim Americans interested in Islam and Muslim culture. Bridges TV hopes to build bridges of understanding and friendship between American Muslims and mainstream Americans.

S. Saqib AIi, a community activist from Potomac, MD, urged Muslims to get involved and run for public office. AIi has been featured in Washington Post articles, including a Washington Post Magazine cover story and a news article, entitled "Driving While Plastered," about campaigning in a car covered with Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) bumper stickers. "We need to engage in partisan politics," AIi said. "We must groom Muslims to get elected to public office, and support them with our time and money." Read more about AIi-who is bound to be running for public office himself soon-at .

Muneer A. Baig, who received an award for political activism in Prince William County, VA, agreed with AIi, saying, "The time to keep quiet is over. Speak up for a fair and inclusive America."

Another award winner, Wafa Unus, a graduating senior at Herndon High School in Virginia, and editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper, is doing just that.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings (DMD) was introduced as someone who has "attended so many Muslim events since 9/11 that people think he's Muslim." The African-American congressman blasted the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act and compared the Muslim-American experience today with growing up in Baltimore, MD during the civil rights era.

When he was 8, Cummings said, he was denied entry to his Olympic-sized whiteonly neighborhood pool. "I was confused," he recalled. "Either I was being denied my rights as a punishment, or I had no rights." When he and other children began to protest, marching up and down near the pool, adults threw bottles, sticks and stones. He still has a scar on his forehead from being hit by a bottle. "Why would adults do that to children?" he asked. Eventually the pool was integrated.

"No one group is superior to others," he reminded the Muslim audience.

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