Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Faith in Freedom" Is Theme of CAIR Banquet

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Faith in Freedom" Is Theme of CAIR Banquet

Article excerpt

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held its 19th annual fund-raising banquet on Sept. 28 at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, VA. Master of Ceremonies Gadeir Abbas, a staffattorney at CAIR's national headquarters, welcomed nearly 900 community members, activists, diplomats, and civil rights and interfaith leaders. CAIRwas founded in 1994 to challenge stereotypes of Islam and protect the rights of Muslim Americans. Highlights of CAIR's banquet included the "2013 Islamic Community Awards" to elders and rising stars alike.

Kashmir-born Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for decades of contributions to inter-religious understanding. Palestinian-American community activist Linda Sarsour, a "New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn," received the American Muslim of the Year Award for her efforts to encourage a public debate on NYPD's surveillance of the Muslim community.

Tarif Shraim, the Muslim chaplain at the University of Maryland at College Park, was presented with the Community Service Award for his mentorship to countless students. The Excellence in Media Award went to Tayyibah Taylor, founder and editor-in-chief of Azizah, an award-winning magazine for Muslim-American women. MakeSpace, a community hub for American Muslims, won the Community Organization of the Year Award. Chapter of the Year Award went to CAIR-Tampa, in recognition of its becoming a premier civil rights organization, not just for the Muslim community, but for people of all faiths.

CAIR's national executive director Nihad Awad described CAIR's new report Legislating Fear:Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States. The report exposes an Islamophobic network comprising 37 groups and the money available for its work ($119,662,719 in total revenue between 2008 and 2011). The network generates legislation, training courses and hate propaganda.

Awad introduced the evening's keynote speaker, South Africa's Ambassador to the U.S. Ebrahim Rasool, who shared lessons he's learned from the anti-apartheid struggle in his country.

Ambassador Rasool condemned the "disease of sectarianism" which is raging in Syria, Iraq and other countries. He urged American Muslims to stay out of the fight between Sunnis and Shi'i, and to put Islamic values first before rituals. Islam should be a force for good in every society, Rasool observed, and Muslim Americans should neither isolate themselves in mosques, nor assimilate. …

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