The Council on American-Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.) is a non-proﬁt 501(c) (4), grassroots civil rights and advocacy group. C.A.I.R. is America’s largest Islaamic civil liberties group, with regional ofﬁces nationwide and in Canada. The national headquarters is located on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
Since its establishment in 1994, C.A.I.R. has worked to promote a positive image of Islaam and Muslims in America. Through media relations, lobbying, education and advocacy, C.A.I.R. puts forth an Islaamic perspective to ensure the Muslim voice is represented. In offering this perspective, C.A.I.R. seeks to empower the American Muslim community and encourage their participation in political and social activism.
The council on American-Islamic relations, C.A.I.R., promotes a simple slogan, “To enhance understanding of Islaam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, and empower American Muslims…”
Omar Ahmad is the founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, better known by the acronym C.A.I.R., a Washington D.C.-based grassroots civil rights and advocacy group which seeks to empower the North American Muslim community through political and social activism. As the Chairman of the Board of Directors since founding in 1994, Mr. Ahmad has successfully led C.A.I.R. to becoming the largest Muslim civil rights organisation with 29 regional ofﬁces and chapters.
Mr. Ahmad is a well-known activist and a community leader in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is frequently interviewed by national news media such as the New York Times, Washington Post and the LA Times. Mr. Ahmad is also the founder, President and C.E.O. of a software technology company in the Silicon Valley. He holds B.S. and M.S. in computer engineering.
C.A.I.R’s Mission and Principles
C.A.I.R’s vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islaam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
C.A.I.R’s principles are as follows:
1. C.A.I.R. supports free enterprise, freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
2. C.A.I.R. is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of faith.
3. C.A.I.R. supports domestic policies that promote civil rights, diversity and freedom of religion.
4. C.A.I.R. opposes domestic policies that limit civil rights, permit racial, ethnic or religious proﬁling, infringe on due process, or that prevent Muslims and others from participating fully in American civic life.
5. C.A.I.R. is a natural ally of groups, religious or secular, that advocate justice and human rights in America and around the world.
6. C.A.I.R. supports foreign policies that help create free and equitable trade, encourage human rights and promote representative government based on socio-economic justice.
7. C.A.I.R. believes the active practice of Islaam strengthens the social and religious fabric of our nation.
8. C.A.I.R. condemns all acts of violence against civilians by any individual, group or state.
9. C.A.I.R. advocates dialogue between faith communities both in America and worldwide.
10. C.A.I.R. supports equal and complementary rights and responsibilities for men and women.
C.A.I.R. has ofﬁces in 30 states across North America. These chapters are dynamic arms of C.A.I.R. which actively promote a positive image of Islaam and Muslims in America. They assist in presenting an Islaamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public. The chapters also empower the American Muslim community within their region through
political and social activism, training, media relations and internship programs. Moreover, the chapters assist the Muslim community in protecting their civil rights and assist them in discrimination cases.
C.A.I.R. has numerous publications, with the aim to inform participants with important issues, such as “Media Relations”, “A law enforcement ofﬁcial guide to the Muslim community”, and “Unpatriotic acts- The status of Muslim civil rights in the United States 2004”. C.A.I.R. has also produced free publications which are available on their website, such as, “Muslim Community Safety Kit”, “Know your rights pocket guide”, and “Learn about C.A.I.R. brochure”.
Currently C.A.I.R. is organising an open library project, which aims to provide local libraries across the U.S. with balanced and accurate Islamic resources. They aim to do this by attracting people to sponsor a library. The details are that for only 150 U.S. Dollars (package value over 300 U.S. Dollars) C.A.I.R. will send enlightening materials to a library of the person’s choice that is interested in receiving them. C.A.I.R. has embarked upon an ambitious campaign to put quality materials about Islaam in all 17,000 public libraries in the United States. If every person or community agrees to sponsor up to 10 libraries, they will easily meet their goal. A person can help educate their fellow Americans about Islaam as a religion of peace and justice that has a rich civilisation and culture. There are other various projects that aim to inform the American society about Islaam, including, “Not in the Name of Islaam” petition, calling for all Muslims to sign the petition to end the misconceptions of Islaam, which can be found here: http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?page=notislampetition More projects initiated by C.A.I.R. can be found on C.A.I.R’s website.
How Does C.A.I.R. Accomplish its Mission?
Civil Rights Work
C.A.I.R’s Civil Rights Department counsels, mediates and advocates on behalf of Muslims and others who have experienced religious discrimination, defamation or hate crimes. The department works to protect and defend the constitutional rights of American Muslims, thereby supporting the rights of all Americans.
C.A.I.R’s Governmental Affairs Department conducts and organises lobbying efforts on issues related to Islaam and Muslims. The department is active in monitoring legislation and government activities and then, responding on behalf of the American Muslim community. C.A.I.R. representatives have testiﬁed before Congress and have sponsored a number of activities designed to bring Muslim concerns to Capitol Hill.
C.A.I.R’s Communications Department works in conjunction with local and national media to ensure an accurate portrayal of Islaam and Muslims is presented to the American public. C.A.I.R. monitors local, national and international media in part, to challenge to applaud and encourage positive representations of Islaam and Muslims. Over the years, C.A.I.R. has become a respected and credible source for journalists and other media professionals.
Action Alerts and CAIR-NET
In an effort to empower the American Muslim community, C.A.I.R. issues “Action Alerts” as a means of generating a grassroots response to critical political, social and media-related issues. These alerts have produced overwhelming results and have made a signiﬁcant impact in bringing about change. C.A.I.R. also offers an email list designed to be a source of information and news for the American Muslim community. Subscribers to the CAIR.NET list receive news releases and other materials dealing with American Muslim positions on issues of importance. To subscribe to CAIR-NET, go to: http://www.CAIR-net.org/default.asp?Page=C.A.I.R.NetSubscription
C.A.I.R.’s Research Department conducts empirical research studies on subjects relevant to the American Muslim community, including gathering and analysing data for the annual civil rights report. The North American Muslim Resource Guide: Muslim Community Life in the United States and Canada (Routledge) is a product of the research department.
C.A.I.R. offers internships to students or other interested individuals who wish to gain experience in media relations, political activism or civil rights work.
C.A.I.R. offers a variety of publications that address the needs and rights of American Muslims. These publications include guides for employers, educators, healthcare providers, and law enforcement. C.A.I.R. also produces practical handbooks and resource materials for the Muslim community. C.A.I.R’s Research Department publishes an annual report on the status of American Muslim civil rights, which serves to document hate crimes and discrimination cases reported to C.A.I.R’s Civil Rights Department.
Education: Conferences, Seminars and Workshops
C.A.I.R. organises regular conferences and training seminars for government and law enforcement agencies, media professionals and the academic community. These events are designed to present easily accessible and accurate information about Islaam and Muslims. C.A.I.R’s TeamWorks sensitivity and diversity training workshop is offered to employers, educators and organisations as a proactive approach that highlights relevant Islaamic practices and offers suggestions for religious accommodation. C.A.I.R. also provides training for the Muslim Community and activists in areas such as media relations, public speaking, lobbying, and civil rights.
In order to increase Muslim participation in the political arena, C.A.I.R. and its chapters regularly sponsor voter registration drives across the country. To register to vote, visit the C.A.I.R. website. Outreach and Interfaith Relations Each year, groups representing people of all faiths visit C.A.I.R. ofﬁces to learn more about Islaam and Muslims in America. Through these visits, as well as other interfaith initiatives, C.A.I.R. strives to educate others about Islaam while building strong relationships with other faith communities.
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