|Speakers from the CAIR-LA Banquet, including (center, in white) Imam Siraj Wahhaj.|
â€¦ Over $445,000 raised to support organizationâ€™s work â€¦
(ANAHEIM, 11/3/08) – Over 1,800 people attended the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA) 11th Annual Banquet on Saturday, November 1.
The keynote address was delivered by Mark LeVine, history professor at University of California Irvine. He spoke on the importance of Muslims to be involved in their communities and to speak out. Other speakers were Imam Siraj Wahhaj, head of the Muslim Alliance of North America; Robert Greenwald, founder of Brave New Films; and Hussam Ayloush, CAIR-LA Executive Director.
At the event, Greenwald received the â€œCourage in Mediaâ€ award from CAIR-LA officials and recognition from Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez.
â€œI look forward to a day when we donâ€™t have to give courage awards for saying and doing the right thing,â€ Greenwald said after receiving the award.
The event attracted people from various ethnicities and backgrounds, including Muslims and people of other faiths such as Christians, Sikhs and Jews. Additionally, the event brought together representatives from Congress, mayors, city council members, chiefs of police, interfaith leaders and officials. Representatives from most Southern California Islamic centers and organizations were also present.
Ayloush said that right after the tragic events of 9/11, the Muslim community did not stay silent in the face of unjust policies but rather, courageously chose to â€œact in accordance with our Islamic values – to speak for truth and justice, even against our own government and our fellow Muslims.â€
He added, â€œThis is not the time for American Muslims to relax and lower our guard. Those who wish to spread division and hatred in our country are still very active and are certainly going to push their extremist and narrow agenda on the new president …The new president will need to see an American Muslim community that is strong, organized and proud to serve its country — a community that extends its hand to work with the new president and his administration to end the civil rights abuses and help regain Americaâ€™s image and credibility in the world, especially the Muslim world.â€
At the event, community leaders and public officials also spoke on the significance of CAIRâ€™s work. In line with the theme â€œAmerican Muslims: Defining Ourselves,â€ speakers such as Southern California Congresswoman Laura Richardson emphasized Muslimsâ€™ engagement in dialogue, building bridges of understanding and combating hate and prejudice.
Moreover, Wahhaj was recognized for his work in educating about Islam and helping build Islamic institutions.
Wahhaj gave a keynote address and conducted the fundraising portion of the event. CAIR-LA was able to raise $445,000 in funds, thanks to the generous support of the community.
CAIR-LAâ€™s accomplishments and work for the year were also highlighted at the banquet. Additionally, a documentary on Southland Muslim communityâ€™s visit to Manzanar, a Japanese American internment camp during WWII, was also shown. The Muslim participation was sponsored by CAIR-LA. Following the documentary screening, the event featured a cultural performance by Japanese Taiko drummers, which amazed the viewers.
The evening concluded with a raffle drawing for Islamic antique pieces.