The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC) celebrated its fifteenth anniversary at a banquet/fundraiser this past Saturday evening in the Anaheim Sheraton Hotel in Anaheim, Ca.The event was titled: â€œTogether, Yes We Canâ€.
The hotel ballroom was filled to its capacity of 450 people. The keynote speaker of the celebration was Professor Jamal Badawi.
Other speakers in cluded Arif Ali Khan, the former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles. He bid the attendees farewell as he prepared to leave the Los Angeles area for Washington, D. C. There he will serve as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Professor Agha Saeed of the American Muslim Task Force (AMT) spoke of the aftermath of 9/11 and the struggle of the Muslim Community against the pervasive atmosphere of Islamophobia and hatred. It was a struggle against the tide – a very strong tide – to prevent Muslims in America from being marginalized and silenced.
Professor Saeed traced the accomplishments of the Muslim community on a local, state and national level in the political arena. He issued five demands from Muslims to the Department of Justice. These demands included a cessation to the infiltration by spies of mosques and an end to the introduction of agents provocateur. In addition there was to be a cessation of attempts to undermine Muslim groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
â€œWe will chose our own leadersâ€ said Professor Saeed.
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, the outgoing Chair of the ISCSC, spoke of the need to continue in our efforts as a Muslim community.
Shakeel Syed recognized prominent people in the audience including members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon). Members of the church have worked closely with Muslims in interfaith activities.
He then presented a brief film showing the work of the ISCSC. This work included education and testimony about torture practiced by the United States.
A poignant scene from Disneyland showed Disney characters being arrested by police. The reality was far from comic. The ISCSC had joined with other groups to protest the subhuman treatment of hotel workers in various locales, including Disneyland. A number of protesters, including Master of Ceremonies, Shakeel Syed, were arrested. A spokesperson for the SEIU (the relevant union) spoke in praise of Muslims in general and Shakeel Syed in particular.
â€œHe was unafraid.â€
The ISCSC also held an interfaith ceremony to mourn the victims of Israeli aggression in Gaza.
There were community service awards and closing remarks. During the course of the evening successful fundraising took place. It was an occasion of socializing – seeing friends again – and internalizing the gains of the Muslim community. It was also an occasion of recognizing the work still to be done.
â€œWe have done alot to be proud ofâ€ said one young woman.
â€œYes,â€ said her table mate â€œand there is so much more that needs to be doneâ€.