CAIR-Philadelphia at PA Human Relations Commission?
In January of this year, Dr. Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu, Education and Outreach Director at CAIR-Philadelphia, traveled to Harrisburg and conducted a presentation on American Muslim History and Experience for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). PHRC enforces state laws that prohibit discrimination including in employment, housing, commercial property, and education.
CAIR-Philadelphia Invited to Join Pennsylvania Department of Education “Equity and Inclusion Committee”
Dr. Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu, Education and Outreach Director at CAIR-Philadelphia and CAIR-PA Advisory Board Member Aaysha Noor were invited to join the “Equity and Inclusion Committee” at Pennsylvania Department of Education. Tekelioglu and Noor participated in a committee meeting in Harrisburg on February 8th at which Tekelioglu presented CAIR-Philadelphia’s “Anti-Bullying Workshop.” The Committee’s members include representatives from multiple NGOs and agencies that work to ensure a safe and welcoming educational environment in the State’s schools.
(L-R: Wasiullah Mohamed, Emgage; Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu, CAIR-Philadelphia; Pedro A. Rivera, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education; Aaysha Noor, CAIR-Philadelphia; Rabiya Wajih, community member.)
Meeting with Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera
CAIR-Philadelphia has developed a working relationship with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), including Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, the purpose of which is to advocate for Muslim students. Last year, Noor and Tekelioglu (along with other leaders from the Muslim community) met with Secretary Rivera. Muslim leaders emphasized that, given the anti-Muslim rhetoric and bullying prevalent in our schools, representatives from the Muslim community should join the “Equity and Inclusion Committee.” In a follow-up meeting on November 15, 2017 with Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and PDE officials, Noor and Tekelioglu met with Ms. Carol Kuntz, director of the Office for Safe Schools at PDE to discuss future steps.
The February 8th meeting described above is the result of this engagement and we are eager to serve the committee and all Pennsylvanians in working for a brighter future for all. We will be working with the public school officials to offer diversity training for educators and administrators and conduct bullying workshops with students and parents. The Committee oversees successful implementation and development of toolkits to ensure a peaceful and welcoming learning environment at PA schools. View PDE’s Equity and Inclusion Toolkit.
February Anti-Bullying Programs
CAIR-PA has been conducting educational programs in Philadelphia area schools. Most recently, Tekelioglu traveled to Joseph W. Catharine Elementary School on January 31 to conduct an anti-bullying presentation. The school is home to both Muslim and Hispanic students and Tekelioglu will conduct a workshop for El Salvadorian community in the neighborhood in February, followed by programs at Gilbert Spruance and Laura H. Carnell schools later in the month.
CAIR’s Educational Offerings
CAIR-Philadelphia at Temple University
On Monday February 5, 2018, Timothy Welbeck, Esq., CAIR-Philadelphia’s Civil Rights Attorney, spoke on a panel sponsored by Temple University’s Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy, and Leadership (I.D.E.A.L.) initiative and the Black Student Union. The panel discussion, entitled Hate Speech v. Free Speech explored the dimensions of First Amendment protections for speech while also examining when free speech protections end and hate speech begins in a legal sense. Timothy differentiated between constitutionally protected speech from the sort of speech that rises to the legal classification of hate speech (speech that “offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits”). Timothy further referenced the notion of how vitriolic rhetoric, regardless of whether it meets the legal standard for hate speech, often has devastating impact for vulnerable members of society, particularly religious minorities, racial minorities, women, and immigrants, in part because it often accompanies other forms of harassment and intimidation.
CAIR-Philadelphia on ACLU Forum
On Thursday February 8, 2018, Timothy Welbeck spoke on a panel sponsored by Indivisible HOPE together with ACLU’s People Power Lansdale, that examined the different aspects of immigration reform and improving community and police dialogue in the Indian Valley area. Timothy was joined on the panel by Telford Borough Police Chief Randy Floyd, Lower Salford Township Police Chief Thomas Medwid, Franconia Township Police Sgt. George Moyer, Anne Montgomery of the Adoptee Rights Campaign, Lee Detweiler, of the Local Emergency Action and Response Network (LEARN), and Philippe Weisz, managing attorney for HIAS PA. Timothy emphasized how the Trump Administration’s immigration policies disproportionately affect Muslim Americans in negative ways, and also shared how the President’s Islamophobic rhetoric emboldens those who hold his bigoted views, and thus creates further animosity toward Muslim Americans. The Souderton Independent covered this panel discussion.
Celebrating Black History Month
On Friday February 9, 2018, Timothy spoke at a Black History Month Assembly for the fourth through sixth grade students at Anderson Add B Elementary School. Timothy discussed the history of Africans in America, described how Black history predates the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, profiled some iconic figures from various protest movements throughout US history, and described his current work as a Civil Rights Attorney.
Timothy also spoke at the 15th Underground Railroad & Black History Conference at Temple University. The conference, sponsored by Temple University’s Department of Africology and African American Studies in cooperation with Civil War and Emancipation Studies program at Temple and the Civil War Museum, explores unsung figures and stories in the struggle for emancipation in the United States.