2017: A Remarkable and Productive Year
This proved to be a busy and extraordinary year, with millions of people organizing around the country; from “No Muslim Ban” demonstrations which brought thousands to protest at airports in January, to the President’s misguided and dangerous plan, announced in December, to unilaterally move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The Philadelphia Chapter of CAIR had an exceedingly eventful year as well. Funding was significantly up, enabling us to hire two new staff members: the learned and dedicated Dr. Ahmed Selim Tekelioglu as our Director of Outreach and Education, and the multi-talented Timothy Welbeck, Esq. as our Civil Rights Attorney.
2016: An Essential Establishment
During and after a presidential campaign marked by an eruption of public racism, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism, CAIR-Philadelphia remained ever-vigilant in the defense of Muslim civil rights. This year firmly established that there is simply no other organization in the U.S. that has CAIR’s breadth of activities. We continued and expanded our educational offerings, media outreach, and interfaith activity, including our first Muslim Women’s Symposium, second annual Muslim Capitol Day, Interfaith Ramadan Iftar, a “Countering Islamophobia” town hall meeting coinciding with the Democratic National Convention.
2015: Challenges and Successes
This year may have been CAIR-Philadelphia’s most productive and challenging yet. In the face of an unprecedented display of anti-Muslim bigotry and extremist violence, CAIR and its interfaith allies were outspoken in denouncing the virulent Islamophobia on the airwaves and online, with CAIR-Philadelphia staff appearing in dozens of media reports. Our combined efforts generated the creation of the Delaware Valley Muslim Leadership Forum, Philadelphia Eid Coalition, and an annual Muslim Capitol Day.
2014: Serving and Representing Our Community
This year saw CAIR-Pennsylvania continuing its stellar record of providing legal services to the American Muslim community in our great Commonwealth, and advocating for greater understanding of Islam by the media and the American public. Highlights include our filing a federal lawsuit against a township for refusing to allow a mosque to be built, leading the response to hateful ads placed on SEPTA buses, and being honored by inclusion in the exhibit Civil Rights in Philadelphia: 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the Philadelphia International Airport, plus so much more.
2013: Transition and Optimism
This year was a time of transition for CAIR-Pennsylvania. In the Philadelphia Office, Executive Director Moein Khawaja left CAIR to attend law school. After an exhaustive search, interfaith activist and filmmaker Jacob Bender was hired to replace Moein. In spite of several other staff transitions, CAIR-PA was able to provide extensive service to the Muslim community in the Commonwealth, including legal representation, educational and cultural programming, and promoting greater interfaith understanding.
2012: Asserting Our Voice
CAIR-Philadelphia continued to lead opposition to PA HB 2029, resulting in the cancellation of a public hearing and subsequent expiration of the bill. Our legal department continued to focus on the vulnerable populations within the American Muslim community and address governmental policies which discriminate against American Muslims. Our media presence was also increased, including producing our very own documentary, that aired on Philadelphia Community Access Media.
2011: Growth and Development
In late 2011, CAIR-Philadelphia learned of PA House Bill 2029, proposed legislation that targeted Islam and Muslims. Our office was uniquely prepared to respond to this challenge with the resources and coalitions to defeat the legislation, thanks to the skills of our first staff attorney along with the combined resources of existing staff members. Our staff and board also organized or were featured in over 45 events, nearly one per week. CAIR-Philadelphia has emerged as an institution that will shape the future of American Muslim life.
2010: Responding and Redesigning
2010 was an incredible year for CAIR-Philadelphia! In early 2010, the staff underwent comprehensive media relations training and all office operations and equipment were upgraded to the highest professional standards. We introduced our new advisory board and redesigned Know Your Rights workshops, Islamophobia seminars, and Muslim Youth Leadership Programs. Training and development were crucial as events nationwide called on our staff to offer the local Muslim perspective on these issues.
2008: Spreading Our Wings
CAIR-Pennsylvania experienced a 28% increase in civil rights and immigration complaints over the previous year, expanded the breadth of our course offerings and initiated programming designed to empower young Americans to make a difference. In April we held our second annual banquet; Former Diplomat and author Michael Morgan, and several other excellent speakers addressed a sold-out crowd of some 700 people. Proceeds from this event allowed CAIR-Pennsylvania to promote Justin to Executive Director and hire Marwa El-Turky as the new Director of Civil Rights. We continued to seek means to enhance understanding of Islam and encourage dialogue to dispel stereotypes and prevent prejudice; protect civil rights to block attempts at marginalizing our community; and empower American Muslims to make positive contributions to society. Read More…
CAIR-Pennsylvania continued its efforts to spark dialogue with additional offering our “Understanding Islam and Muslims through History and Jurisprudence” course five times during the year and hosting or co-sponsoring various other interfaith events. In April of this year we held our first annual banquet, Connecting and Sharing. Gov. Edward G. Rendell and several other excellent speakers addressed a sold-out crowd of some 500 people.
The success of this event allowed CAIR-Pennsylvania to hire a full-time Director of Civil Rights, Justin L. Peyton, in September to address the civil rights needs of the Pennsylvania Muslim community. In the waning months of the year he handled 57 complaints from all across the state and securing a few key accommodations for Muslims in the workplace. Read More…
2006: Community Outreach
CAIR-Pennsylvania’s accomplishments during this year included participating in CAIR-National’s “Explore the Life of Muhammad Campaign,” beginning to offer our highly successful 10-part course entitled “Understanding Islam and Muslims through History and Jurisprudence” and giving Know Your Rights Presentations at local mosques, as well as numerous interfaith presentations, workshops and seminars. Read More…
2005: First Steps
On January 30th, CAIR-Pennsylvania held its inaugural event, a program entitled “Civil Rights to Human Rights: From Guantanamo to Abu Ghuraib” at Temple University. On April 2005, after a few short months of running the chapter on a completely volunteer basis, CAIR-Pennsylvania employed its first full-time staff member, Adeeba Al-Zaman, as our Director of Communications to focus on building relationships with local media professionals. Her work resulted in appearances on local programs such as the Michael Smerconish Show, the Dom Giordano Show, and Fox 29’s “Good Day Philadelphia”. Read More…
In 2004, thirteen Muslims from the Greater Philadelphia area came together with the idea of bringing the benefits of CAIR’s work to the local community. In December of that year, these pioneers’ diligent efforts resulted in the establishment of CAIR’s first official chapter in Pennsylvania (CAIR-Pennsylvania), with the opening of an office in center city Philadelphia. Read More…