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It has been a monumental year for CAIR-Chicago in countering hate and bigotry and upholding American Muslims’ civil rights. With the Southern Poverty Law Center and FBI reporting that hate crimes against Muslims are at a decade high, we have increased awareness on issues facing American Muslims and worked diligently with public officials and community leaders to enact legislation that protects their civil liberties.
Our success this year is due to our increasing number of loyal supporters who share our common values of justice, freedom, and democracy for all.
Here is just a sample of our recent work on your behalf:
Defending your civil rights
Litigation Director Kevin Vodak and Staff Attorney Rabya Khan have worked to not only protect the civil liberties of American Muslims, but to also spread awareness on legal issues and inform the community of their rights. This year, CAIR-Chicago’s civil rights team have resolved numerous citizenship delay cases and are working hard on long-term cases such as the mosque-zoning issues related to the Irshad Learning Center. To date, more than 120 citizenship delay cases have been resolved by CAIR-Chicago’s civil rights team.
Standing up to public officials' bigotry and hate
During the holy month of Ramadan in the summer of 2012, former representative Joe Walsh of Illinois’ 8th Congressional District made claims that Muslims in Chicago suburbs were plotting “another 9/11.” CAIR-Chicago responded immediately by holding a widely publicized press conference with interfaith and interethnic community leaders to denounce Walsh’s bigoted and hateful comments.
Combatting hate crimes and discrimination
Within two weeks of Walsh’s statements, Muslims in the Chicago area became targets of three separate hate crimes. A man wielding a gun shot at a mosque in Morton Grove, an acid bomb was thrown at an Islamic school in Lombard, and a Muslim grave was desecrated in Evergreen Park. CAIR-Chicago responded to these incidents by working closely with the FBI and law enforcement to bring the perpetrators to justice, and to condemn these acts while appearing in a significantly large number of media appearances. CAIR-Chicago stayed consistent in raising awareness on Walsh's problematic generalizations as well as the streak of hate crimes, and was quoted in over 20 media venues. CAIR-Chicago's work was instrumental in defeating hate. Rep Walsh, who was not invited back to Congress by voters.
Building coalitions to create change
In an effort spearheaded by SAAPRI and CAIR-Chicago and Illinois-based South Asian and Sikh groups, an anti-hate resolution was introduced and passed unanimously by Chicago City Council in September. The resolution, which protects minorities like Muslims, South Asians and Sikhs from discrimination and hate crimes, was subsequently by passed by the Illinois House of Representatives. Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, representing YOU, was present at a local Sikh Gurdwara along with Sikh leaders and public officials at the official resolution presentation.
Engaging in civic participation
This year, Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director, was appointed to Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s New Americans Advisory Committee to generate recommendations, develop strategies, and present an overall vision to promote the City’s economic vitality and global competitiveness as “the most immigrant friendly city in the world.” Ahmed was previously appointed by Governor Quinn to an advisory board and remains an active member.
Leading in immigration reform
Ahmed Rehab joined public officials including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senator Richard Durbin, Senator John Cullerton, and Congressman Luis Gutierrez at an ICIRR rally to recognize nearly 13,000 undocumented youth who sought deferred action on Dream Relief Day in August. Ahmed, a board member of leading pro-immigration reform group, ICIRR, has consistently represented the Muslim community at the highest levels in this crucial social justice movement from Chicago to Alabama.
Sponsoring national/global public education initiatives
CAIR-Chicago was also the first to sponsor the #MyJihad public education campaign, an independent initiative launched in Chicago but spreading to other cities, that aims to reclaim Islam from Muslim and non-Muslim extremists alike. The campaign, which has a strong social media movement behind it, recently debuted with numerous ads on Chicago buses. #MyJihad has also instantly grabbed the attention of local, national, and international media outlets including the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC, and the Huffington Post. More ads will launch in other cities coast to coast over the next few weeks.
Launching independent media: The Chicago Monitor
The Chicago Monitor, a project of CAIR-Chicago, is a mini Huffington Post-style online news portal dedicated to providing a platform for opinions and perspectives on Muslim issues that are not often presented in mainstream media. The group of writers for the Monitor include CAIR-Chicago staff, interns, volunteers, as well as individuals from around the world who submit their work to the online publication. The newly-launched Chicago Monitor has attracted the attention of people from numerous countries who are seeking alternative news and media. Letters to the editor come in from as far as Germany.
All of these efforts would not have been possible without your support. We are asking you to help us defend your constitutionally protected civil rights and to help us build new intellectual public space for Muslim talent and contribution. Please consider making one last tax-deductible and zakat-eligible donation or join our dollar-a-day program before 2012 comes to a close.
Please join us in defeating hate and injustice and giving a voice to the American Muslim community.
With gratitude and appreciation,
The CAIR-Chicago Team
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