CAIR-SV Honors Muslim Youth, Community Leaders at 6th Annual Banquet

By Pasquini, Elaine | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2009 | Go to article overview

CAIR-SV Honors Muslim Youth, Community Leaders at 6th Annual Banquet


Pasquini, Elaine, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


THE SACRAMENTO Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV) kicked off its sixth annual banquet Nov. 15 with opening remarks by emcees Athar Siddiqee, CAIR-SFBA vice president, and California Senate consultant Aidan Ali-Sullivan. More than 500 guests gathered at Sacramento's Radisson Hotel for an evening of fine dining, fund-raising, and to honor community members for outstanding service during the past year.

Following comments by CAIR-SV president Yousef Marmosh, newly elected Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson made a brief appearance at the gala. Taking to the stage amid cheers and applause, the former Phoenix Suns basketball star vowed to "make Sacramento a model city when it comes to expressing the diversity of our community" and to ensure that the Muslim community has input and access to the mayor's office.

Executive director Basim Elkarra, who also serves on Johnson's transition team, highlighted CAIR's numerous challenges and accomplishments during the past year, including the Muslim Youth Leadership Program (see following item).

Prior to the evening's speeches and a rousing fund-raising session by the dynamic Imam Siraj Wahhaj of New York's Masjid Al-Taqwa, awards were presented to individuals for their extraordinary contributions to the community. C.C. Yin of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association received the Outstanding Community Service Award. Distinguished Service Awards went to Rohimah Moly and Mufaddal Ezzy, while sister and brother Fereesa and Omer Khan received Outstanding Youth Service Awards.

Raid Abed, who has monitored hate speech on the radio since 9/11, was awarded the Courage and Inspiration Award. After hearing a hate-filled segment of Michael Savage's "Savage Nation" on Oct. 27, 2007, Abed called CAIR and requested action be taken. In concert with Brave New Films, CAIR began a national grass-roots campaign that resulted in advertisers, such as Office Max, AT&T, Wal-Mart and Geico, pulling their sponsorship from the daily radio program.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR-LA (see Jan./Feb. 2009 Washington Report, p. 47), praised the Sacramento chapter for being "in the forefront of defending the civil rights of every American."

Muslim Youth Leadership Program

To the banquet audience's delight, graduates of the Muslim Youth Leadership Program (MYLP) from the past four years joined CAIR-SV executive director Elkarra on stage to accept well-deserved recognition of their accomplishments. From Aug. 14 to 17, 2008, CAIR's California chapters held their fourth annual MYLP at the state capitol. Some 35 high school and college age students participated in workshops on public speaking, media relations and governmental activism. They also learned about internships and job opportunities in the state legislature. A mock legislative debate was the highlight of the conference. "This was so amazing. We had the opportunity to debate legislators on the Senate floor," enthused Sadia Saifuddin, a senior at Stockton's Lincoln High School. "We are the future of Islamic America and it is our job to carry the torch of Islam to the best of our ability."

Assemblyman Dave Jones on Opportunities for Change

In his keynote address to the CAIR banquet audience, California Assemblyman Dave Jones blasted the U.S. Justice Department's actions over the past eight years. "I am extremely saddened that the department that is supposed to be the bulwark of civil rights has become an instrument of violating civil rights," the former counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno said. "We've seen high level officials in the department using political litmus tests to hire people, wiretapping without complying with federal law and obstruction of Congress' oversight role."

Jones lambasted Attorney General Michael Mukasey for changing federal guidelines that were issued in 1976 by Attorney General Edward Levi to prevent the FBI from engaging in the destruction of First Amendment rights. …

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