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Report from Islamophobia Town Hall and Press Conference

This past Sunday evening, CAIR-Philadelphia, American Friends Service Committee, and Jewish Voice for Peace hosted a town hall meeting on “Countering Islamophobia” at the Friends Center in Philadelphia. In attendance were more than 200 community members, local leaders, and Democratic delegates from around the country.

Speakers at the event included Jacob Bender (CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director); Keith Harvey (Regional Director, AFSC); State Representative Jason Dawkins; Nihad Awad (Executive Director, CAIR National); US Representative Keith Ellison; Linda Sarsour (Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York); Donna Nevel (Network Against Islamophobia, Jewish Voice for Peace); Raed Jarrar (Government Relations Manager, AFSC); and The Rev. Dr. David D. Grafton (Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations, Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia).

A musical interlude was provided by Al-Bustan Music Director Hanna Khoury.

View recorded video on Facebook | Photos on Flickr

On Monday morning, CAIR-Philadelphia held a press conference to follow up on the issues raised at the town hall meeting in relation to the ongoing Democratic National Convention and to urge the Convention to adopt a platform that focuses on civil rights, refugees, policing reforms, economic equality, and the climate crisis.

Speakers included Jacob Bender, Nihad Awad, Nick Taliaferro (900AM-WURD radio host, pastor and longtime public servant), Oussama Jammal (US Council of Muslim Organizations), Nancy Fuchs Kreimer (Reconstructionist Rabbinical College), Reverend David Tatgenhorst (St. Luke United Methodist Church), Rabbi Shawn Zevit (Mishkan Shalom), Jameelah Malik (Maryland activist), and Ijaz Chaudhry, Esq. (representing the Bensalem-area Muslim community).

View recorded video on Facebook

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CAIR to Urge Dems to Focus on Civil Rights, Refugees, Policing Reforms at Philadelphia Convention

(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 7/21/16) – The Philadelphia Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is sponsoring two major events during the week of the DNC to urge the Convention to adopt a platform that focuses on civil rights, refugees, policing reforms, economic equality, and the climate crisis.

Countering Islamophobia Town Hall

WHEN: Sunday, July 24, 6-9 p.m.
WHERE: The Friends Center, 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102
WHAT: On Sunday, July 24, CAIR-Philadelphia, together with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Jewish Voice for Peace, will host a town hall meeting on “Countering Islamophobia.” Speakers at the town hall will include Rep. Keith Ellison, (D-MN); CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad; Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York; Kameelah M. Rashad, Muslim chaplain at University of Pennsylvania; Raed Jarrar, government relations manager at AFSC; Donna Nevel of the Network Against Islamophobia, Jewish Voice for Peace; and Rev. Dr. David D. Grafton of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia

CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Jacob Bender, 917-660-3805, jbender@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

Muslim and Interfaith News Conference to coincide with the opening of the DNC

WHEN: Monday, July 25, 10 a.m.
WHERE: The Friends Center, 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102
WHAT: Interfaith and Muslim Press Conference to focus on advancing Muslim and progressive agendas.
CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Jacob Bender, 917-660-3805, jbender@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

CAIR recently held a news conference at the site of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, to challenge the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim stance of the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump and of other party officials and representatives. (See video)

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CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Jacob Bender, 917-660-3805, jbender@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

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Don’t Miss Our Town Hall on Countering Islamophobia + Philadelphia DNC Events

SPEAKERS

REP. KEITH ELLISON

Rep. Ellison was the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress and the first African American elected to the House from Minnesota. In 2006, he used the English translation of the Qur’an owned by Thomas Jefferson for his swearing-in ceremony. Ellison’s election and service are inspirational to American Muslims and he encourages civic empowerment through participation in the political process.

LINDA SARSOUR

Linda is a working woman and a racial justice and civil rights activist. Ambitious, outspoken, and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. She is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPOWER Change.

NIHAD AWAD

Nihad, Executive Director and co-founder of CAIR, has testified before both houses of the U.S. Congress, most recently at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on matters involving Muslims in America. He is frequently interviewed on national and international media and is one of the signatories of “A Common Word Between Us and You,” an open letter by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders, calling for peace and understanding.

KAMEELAH RASHAD

Kameelah is the founder of Muslim Wellness Foundation. She serves as the Interfaith Fellow & Muslim Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania, where she acts as a counselor and advisor to the Muslim students on campus and facilitates discussions on religious identity development and challenges faced by American Muslim youth.

RAED JARRAR

Raed serves as AFSC’s Government Relations Manager at the Office of Public Policy and Advocacy in Washington, D.C. Since his immigration to the U.S. in 2005, he has worked on political and cultural issues pertaining to U.S. engagement in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

DONNA NEVEL

Donna is a community psychologist and educator, coordinator of Participatory Action Research Center and its Institute for Community Leadership and Fieldwork. She is involved with efforts for justice in Palestine/Israel and against Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

REV. DAVID GRAFTON

David is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. His academic interests focus on Christian-Muslim relationships in the Middle East. He has provided courses, lectures, and seminars on Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations around the world.

DOWNLOAD PDF FLYER FOR THE TOWN HALL *

ADDITIONAL COMMUNITY EVENTS AROUND THE CONVENTION

Friday, July 22, 2016
What: Muslim American Friday (Jummah) Prayer Service
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Where: Independence Park, 5th & Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Host: Islamic Cultural Preservation & Information Council (ICPIC). Free and open to the public.

Saturday, July 23, 2016
What: 24th Annual Islamic Heritage Festival & Parade
Time 1:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Where: Penn’s Landing, Columbus Blvd & Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Host: Islamic Cultural Preservation & Information Council (ICPIC). Free and open to the public.

Monday, July 25, 2016 @ 10 AM
What: Press Conference
With Nihad Awad (CAIR National), Jacob Bender (CAIR-Philly), and other Muslim community leadership
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: Friends Center, Lucretia Mott Room (1501 Cherry St Philadelphia)

Monday, July 25, 2016
What: Muslim American Delegates Welcome Lunch:  “Muslims, Social Justice, and Political Engagement.” (PDF Flyer)
Time: 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm
Where: Loews Philadelphia Hotel, 1200 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19106
Host: Muslim American Host Committee for the DNCC 2016
Tickets: $40.00

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
What: Lunch Reception & Book Signing with Dr. Denise Spellberg (PDF Flyer)
Time: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Where: City Council Caucus Room, City Hall-Room 401,  Philadelphia, PA
Hosts: City Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., UMBA
Tickets: $65.00

Thursday, July 28, 2016
What: Muslim American Delegates Luncheon 
Time: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Where: Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Host:   Emerge PAC
Tickets: $125 – $10,000

Prayer/Meditation space available daily at
Wells Fargo Center and Convention Center

For further information, please email: muslimdemocratichostcommitee@gmail.com

Download PDF Flyer for All Events

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Muslim celebration tempered by thoughts of innocent victims

by Earle Cornelius
Lancaster Online

Violent deaths of hundreds of Muslims across the world cast a shadow over Lancaster community’s celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Even as they acknowledged that, community leaders who spoke Wednesday to hundreds of Muslims, many wearing colorful chadors and robes, focused on a larger message of peace and love.

Eid (pronounced eed) is to be a joyous time; a chance to gather with friends and family and to relish the fact that the month of daylight fasting has come to an end.

Guest speakers, at the Thursday celebrations organized at Lancaster County Convention Center, included Khateeb Brother Iftekhar Hussain, Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray and city fire Chief Tim Gregg.

Hussain, a native of Bangladesh who now lives in Malvern, told the gathering that Ramadan “is a time to align your will with God’s will” and to “reprioritize what is valuable in your lives.” Read more…

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Director’s Desk: What Are Muslim Lives Worth?

By Jacob Bender, Executive Director

Nearly one week ago, three gunmen wearing suicide vests killed 44 people and wounded at least 239 in an attack on Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. According to the latest information released by the Turkish Government, the three attackers were Russian, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz nationals, each with ties to ISIS.

Though the American media dutifully reported on the carnage, it was clear from the first news reports that this latest act of terrorism would not garner the wall-to-wall coverage bestowed upon previous terror attacks, like Orlando, San Bernardino, Brussels, and Paris. Surveying the media coverage of the Istanbul attack, it is hard not to ask the impolite question whether the victims being overwhelming Muslims played any role in how the mainstream media reported on the attack?

Put another way, is it a natural human tendency to care more about the victims of an attack when they come from the same tribe as ourselves? Or is it the responsibility of the media and religious leaders in a free society to affirm the worth of all human being: no matter the color of their skin; no matter the way they pray, or do not; no matter the gender of who they love. When we read in the Quran that: “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]… it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” [Qur’an, 5:32]

Our friend Dean Obiedallah, in his Huffington Post blog writes that, “Is the lack of media coverage because there’s an empathy gap for Muslims lives? Or is it that the media executives simply believe Americans don’t care and won’t watch stories about Muslims killed by terror attacks?”

Dean goes on to write that: “Coverage of the victims, hearing from their families, etc., goes a long way to humanizing Muslims. It gives a human face to Muslims, which is a powerful counter-narrative to the way some on the right in American politics want to depict us. Second, coverage of Muslim killed by terrorism would make it clear to our fellow Americans that the number one victims of the so-called Islamic State are in fact Muslims. This hopefully will cause many to realize that we Muslims are united in fighting ISIS since the terrorists are slaughtering Muslims daily.”

Indeed. I write this article on the morning of July 4th, the anniversary of our nation’s birth, when we should be out celebrating the democratic values of justice and equality and pluralism that make our country great (not the fear-mongering, xenophobia, and racism that are also a part of our country’s heritage).

Instead, this morning’s news brings the sights and sounds of horrendous carnage from Bangladesh and Baghdad: eerily similar scenes of explosions, charred bodies, wailing ambulances, and grieving veiled woman in hijabs. Hundreds of Muslim victims killed by their fellow Muslims taking orders from, or inspired by, a death-cult proclaiming fidelity to the same One God (SWT) and His Prophet (PBUH), the same God among whose names are THE COMPASSIONATE and THE MERCIFUL.

Although those of us with some sense of history can endlessly point out that it was the 2013 American invasion of Iraq, with its monumental destabilizing impact upon the entire Middle East, which led directly to the rise of ISIS across Iraq and Syria, we can and must say the following:

First, the mass murders of ISIS are actions committed by independent human beings who must be held accountable by the international community for their crimes against humanity.

Second, while every mainstream Muslim institution around the world has consistently condemned the violent outrages of ISIS as contrary to the teachings of Islam, and called for united action to counter the extremist threat, there is no simple answer to the problem of extremist terrorism (certainly not unilateral American actions by bombing, drones, or Special Forces, will once again prove totally inadequate to address, much less cure, the complex web of authoritarianism, economic hopelessness, and religious extremism that ISIS represents).

Finally, as the Sacred Month of Ramadan draws to a close, and Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, the words of the Qur’an were never more abundantly relevant: “Hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant.” [Qur’an, 7:199]

In those sacred words quoted above, we find the real worth of Muslim lives, indeed, of all human life: the obligation to repair the world with God’s mercy, compassion, and love. This is also the mission of CAIR: to help non-Muslims learn about the beauty of Islam, as I have so learned; and to defend the civil liberties of American Muslims threatened, as in no previous times, by this surprisingly unsettling election cycle.

Won’t you join me in this great challenge?

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