Asalaam Alaikum (peace be unto you),
In commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks, CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Moein Khawaja said in a Philadelphia Metro newspaper interview, “9/11 impacted the American Muslim community two ways. The attacks were on our country and faith. As we grieved for the lives of the innocent, we had to deal with our faith being tarnished. It has been a challenge for many Muslims; however, 9/11 did start a national conversation about Islam’s place in America.”
Sometimes this conversation has been positive and oftentimes negative. But one thing’s for sure, CAIR-Philadelphia is there setting the record straight, making sure that Muslims and Islam are portrayed in a fair and accurate manner.
Whether it is in the form of a donation, a greeting card to staff or an encouraging phone call, we could not have done this without you. We at CAIR-Philadelphia would like to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation. Moving into 2012, we have a lot to celebrate.
In September, we hired our first staff attorney. From the last fundraising banquet, our goal was to hire an experienced attorney ready to hit the ground running and establish free legal services for Muslims and others who have experienced religious discrimination in and around Philadelphia. We quickly went into action and challenged an anti-Islamic bill moving into the Pennsylvania legislature.
This year, we have accelerated our coalition-building and outreach. Without allies and partners, it would be harder to accomplish our goals. We are proud to say that CAIR-Philadelphia staff is constantly at the table with city and state agencies. Our outreach department visited numerous Masajid across the region, and is helping to organize the Philadelphia Children’s Interfaith Festival and Interfaith Peace Walk.
In 2011, CAIR-Philadelphia appeared in over 40 unique media stories or interviews – via newspapers, television or radio. That’s 40 times when there otherwise would have been silence, or worse, someone else speaking about Muslims and Islam.
Most importantly, we believe in order to secure a better future for us all is to empower the next generation with the skills they need to make a difference. In 2011, we conducted interactive youth leadership workshops that teach young Muslims about their religious rights in public school, how to deal with bulling and how to respond positively to tough questions about Islam and Muslims. Over 300 students have participated in the Muslim Youth Leadership Program so far!
The mission must continue, and indeed, this is only the beginning. We believe that advocacy through the American Muslim experience is advocacy for a better America. CAIR-Philadelphia will be as successful as you allow it to be, and we are confident you are ready for the next level of advocacy on behalf of American Muslims.
The CAIR-Philadelphia team
Rugiatu Conteh, Outreach and Communications Director;
Amara Chaudhry, Esq., Civil Rights Director;
Leena Jaffer, Operations Coordinator;
Moein Khawaja, Executive Director