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Another reason to welcome the pope

Letter to the editor published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, May 19, 2015

The recent announcement that the Vatican has officially recognized Palestine should be welcome news to those who support peace and justice for all in the Middle East (“Vatican recognizes ‘state of Palestine’,” May 14). The Holy See’s recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people follows the historic meeting last summer when Pope Francis brought Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas together at the Vatican for a “Prayer Summit for Peace.”

These actions, along with the pontiff’s leadership in fighting poverty, condemning racism, promoting interfaith relations, and warning of the dangers of human-caused climate change to the entire planet, have endeared Pope Francis to billions of people around the world, including many in the Muslim world.

This is why the Philadelphia Muslim community will be joining hundreds of thousands of its neighbors in welcoming Pope Francis to the city in September. How fortunate and blessed we will be to be a part of this momentous event.

Jacob Bender, executive director, Philadelphia chapter, Council on American Islamic Relations

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Do it for the Deen Youth Symposium

Presented by CAIR-Philadelphia & Youssef Kromah for 8th & 9th Grade Muslims

When: May 30, 2015

Where: 5301 Media Street, Philadelphia, PA 19131

We’re looking for students in the 8th & 9th grade to join us to reflect on our Muslim identity and determine how we can productively engage with the broader community to become agents of change.

Students from any school (including homeschool and cyber school) in the Delaware Valley can apply. Students must be able to attend the 5/30 symposium and participate in a service project on 6/13. Students who demonstrate a genuine interest in developing leadership skills will be eligible to apply for the yearlong MUFTI Program.

Applications (due May 10, 2015) and more information

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CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Interviewed About Texas Shootings on The Nick Taliaferro Show on WURD Radio (audio)

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Baltimore is a Muslim Issue

“We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice.” (Hadid: 25)

We at CAIR-Philadelphia have watched the tragic events unfolding in our neighboring city of Baltimore these past days with trepidation and sadness, just as we previously witnessed the injustices committed by the police in Ferguson, Staten Island, Charlotte, and countless other cities across the nation. We should not delude ourselves: these killings of Black men are not the exception, they are symptomatic of the lack of due process by which African American communities are governed in this country.

There is no easy solution to ending institutional anti-Black racism in the nation, as its roots are sunk deep into the violent four centuries of European settlement upon this continent. They were the foundation upon which the structural inequalities of American society were built. What we can say is that responding to injustice and showing compassion to its innocent victims is mandated by the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Read more…

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Director’s Desk, April 24, 2015

By Jacob Bender
CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director

On April 10th, 11th and 12th, I joined my fellow CAIR Executive Directors from over 25 CAIR chapters around the country, together with CAIR staff and Board Members, for CAIR’s National Board Meeting in Washington, DC. The Meeting was also an occasion to celebrate CAIR National’s 20th Anniversary.

Workshops were held on such important topics as: “Talking about Race in the Muslim Community,” “Youth Outreach,” “Media Outreach,” “Social Media Skills,” “Outreach to Municipal and State Government,” “Countering Islamophobia,” “Building Partnerships,” “Fundraising Skills,” and “Volunteer Management.”

It was inspiring to hear stories from CAIR staff around the country, sharing programmatic ideas and strategies, and to know that the work we do in Philadelphia is being duplicated many times over in cities around the U.S. I remain convinced that CAIR is a unique and invaluable institution, not only in the Muslim community, but in American society at large.

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