November 1, 2008
As you gather in friendship for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) Annual Banquet, I would like to congratulate you for your participation in our nation's political process. With your voice, you can help to ensure that our great country continues to be the world's beacon of freedom and democracy. I would also like to recognize and celebrate CAIR-LA's twelve years of service to the Muslim-American community of Orange County
Throughout its existance, CAIR LA has been instrumental in promoting cultural and religious understanding of the Muslim community. I am pleased that CAIR LA has been dedicated to building coalitions between non-Muslim and Muslim communities in an effort to eliminate stereotypes and promote tolerance, compassion, and understanding. I commend CAIR-LA for playing a vital role in the integration of the Muslim community into American society in an effort to promote patriotism and pride in their home country. I look forward to a continued partnership with CAIR-LA as we strive for freedom and understanding among all who call America home.
Again I congratulate the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Southern California as you celebrate you twelfth anniversary, and I commend you for your many accomplishments and contributions to the Muslim-American community,
Gary G. Miller
Member of Congress
The program opened with a presentation, "American Muslims: Defining Ourselves" given by Ameena Qazi, the new staff attorney for CAIR LA and Sharaf Mowjood, Government Relations Coordinator for CAIR. Watch their presentation HERE. Note that being CAIR's new attorney is not Ameena's only talent. She is also has worked with Great Leap, an interfaith performance group founded by Nobuko Miyamoto (who gave a recitation at last year's CAIR banquet HERE) . Ameena's talent and sincerity shined through in the closing ceremony of Manzanar at Dusk (April 24, 2008) which can be viewed HERE. How beautiful and spiritual a performance Ameena and George gave that day, bringing tears to many eyes.
This time, as was the case last year, I sat with a table sponsored by NCRR (Nikei Civil Rights and Redress) and members of JACL (Japanese American Citizen's League). In April of this year, CAIR SoCal as well as two other CAIR groups from Northern California participated in a joint pilgrimage to Manzanar with members of NCRR, JACL and the Manzanar Commitee. The preparation for pilgrimage consisted of five educational programs in local mosques relating to them the Japanese experience of incarceration during WWII. It was after 911 that the Japanese community due to their own experience recognized the potential of scapegoating an entire community of Americans. At that time they reached out in solidarity to their Muslim sisters and brothers. Saturday evening CAIR presented their 13 minute long mini-doc of that trip (below). Six of those appearing in the documentary attended the banquet Saturday evening. Immediately following the documentary, UCLA's outstanding Taiko drummers performed for the audience.
Below is Hussam Ayloush's presentation at the banquet
Read a news report of the evening HERE
Saturday was a WONDERFUL evening that you put on CAIR LA! Here's to Pilgrimage 2009 and all the rest of the year too.