Happy New Year from CAIR-Philadelphia
A Final Opportunity to Help Dr. Ahmet Help You
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[A Note From Jacob Bender, CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director: It has been a year-and-a-half since Dr. Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu came to CAIR-Philadelphia to work as our Director of Outreach and Education. In that short amount of time, Dr. Ahmet has become widely known throughout the Muslim community of the Greater Delaware Valley, first by the dozens of inspiring and learned khutbahs (religious sermons delivered at the conclusion of Friday communal prayers) he delivered at dozens of inner-city and suburban mosques, and secondly, by the countless workshops he presented to both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences. Dr. Ahmet earned a PhD in political science from Boston University, and is on the faculty at George Mason University in Washington D.C. With his expansive understanding of Islam, as well as by his wide knowledge of the American Muslim community, Dr. Ahmet is my first source for all things Islamic. He has been a blessing to our CAIR office, as well as to the entire Muslim community. I am also proud to call him a friend.]
MY YEAR OF OUTREACH
A Summary of 2018
By Dr. Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu
Director of Outreach and Education
In a Time of Fear
For many Muslims in America, myself included, 2018 was a difficult year, as we witnessed the growth off verbal and physical attacks on American Muslims and other minorities; all, no doubt, encouraged by the open and coded racist discourse emanating from the highest government officials in the land and spread maliciously throughout the internet and broadcast and print media. CAIR-Philadelphia’s response to this tide of ignorance was to further intensify its Education and Outreach programs during 2018. At CAIR-Philadelphia we developed several strategic initiatives to empower our communities, built coalitions with our partners and launched new programs. Below you will find a summary of these initiatives and we invite you to give us a call (267-515-6713) or email us if you have any questions about these programs.
Our efforts in education were made possible by the expertise of CAIR-Philadelphia staff and board members. Our education brochure (PDF) details some of the courses we present and we are happy to report that throughout 2018, many of our programs were hosted by our mosque communities, leading educational and civic institutions, and federal offices.
With the rise of emboldened racism in America, we presented our anti-bullying workshops over 15 times in mosques, public and private schools, and in programs such as MIST-Philadelphia, and during our signature Muslim Youth Leadership Programs. In these presentations, we happily observed how our children are resilient and were able to help them approach anti-bullying from a point of knowledge and awareness of their rights. Similarly, in many occasions we were able to talk to parents and educate them on child pedagogy and interacting with schools.
Our work with Pennsylvania Department of Education and multiple school districts in 2018, including Philadelphia School District, T/E School District and North Penn School District, also aims to advocate for the rights of our children and educate the educators on issues related to Islam, Muslims, and anti-Muslim racism. In 2019 we will continue with his work and have already scheduled multiple trainings for public and private school educators.
Our office is also offering multiple courses, all without cost, such as “Know Your Rights”, “Anti-Bullying Workshops”, “African American Muslim History” and “Muslim Youth Leadership Programs”. Some examples in 2018 included our Islam 101 trainings for the staff of Please Touch Museum and POWER Philadelphia, as well as a 10-session course offered at Temple University’s OLLI program. Importantly, in 2018 we took our programs to federal offices and presented customized workshops for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Federal Executive Board. These trainings will help federal service providers with developing an informed approach to Muslim Americans’ needs.
Our educational programs also included two panels we conducted at the city’s preeminent civic educational institution, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. In these panels we provided platform to leaders of Muslim institutions and young community members to talk to a diverse audience about their stories and dynamics affecting our community.
Outreach and Programs
As we increased our educational programs to respond to raising tide of anti-Muslim racism, we also invested in reaching across the aisle and developing partnerships based in compassion, mutual understanding, and civic activism.
In the interfaith scene, we partnered with One America in developing a service and dialogue project for which we also received, together with our allies, a sizable grant. Please stay tuned for the official announcement on this.
Our Muslim Capitol Day in April and partnerships during the election season aimed at increasing civic engagement of our communities. CAIR-Philadelphia, together with other Muslim organizations facilitated over 50 meetings in the State Capitol and advocated for bills that seek racial and economic equity.
The khutbahs we delivered in the run up to the elections encouraged our community to register to vote and we were also able to hold voter registration drives in Upper Darby, West Chester, and Mechanicsburg. Our work was rewarded with two project-specific grants and we are seeking to continue to invest in civic engagement of Muslim Pennsylvanians and Delawareans.
Similarly, we partnered with non-Muslim social justice organizations to protest the anti-immigrant, racist and bigoted policies and discourses of the current Administration, and helped organize the large “No to Family Separation” rally in Philadelphia in the summer, and arranged for Muslim speakers to address the huge crowd.
In all of these programs and beyond, our community showcased its strength, compassion, and dynamism. We are seeking to protect your rights, empower our communities, and educate the public in increasing greater religious and inter-cultural literacy. We are thankful for your support and are ready to carry our work forward in 2019. Please help us in this endeavor by donating to CAIR-Philadelphia.
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