by Neekta Hamidi - CAIR-AZ Board of Directors
Overlooking the Potomac River, with the Washington Monument peeking in the distance, the CAIR National Council appeared to be a glimpse into some sort of Muslim “House of Cards” episode. Attorneys conversed about up-and-coming bills in congress, men in suits adjusted “CAIR” pins on their red and blue ties, the coffee supply constantly needed refilling as attendees stumbled in jet-lagged from travel, but eager for the agenda to commence. The hundred or so attendees of CAIR board members, executive directors, and staff included three representatives from one of the most recently established chapters, CAIR-Arizona. CAIR-AZ Chairman Imraan Siddiqi, Civil Rights Coordinator Liban Yousuf, and myself, a member of the board, had the privilege of being in attendance for a series of discussions, workshops, and trainings with collaborators from all over the nation.
The CAIR National Council meeting is an opportunity for intensive training to implement CAIR’s missions, updates on CAIR’s progress towards its goals, and exposure to other chapters to maximize collaboration of successful strategies. Between Saturday and Sunday, our team was able to attend over a dozen of these seminars and sessions, each one providing different insight on how to improve our chapter. Our team’s favorites included a “Media Basics Workshop,” where Liban reviewed techniques to better engage interviewers in discussion of CAIR’s focus. In the upcoming year, our team plans to continue engaging with the media to share the views of the Muslim community; with an abundance of tips from professionals at CAIR National, we are confident that we will demonstrate the needs of Arizona’s Muslim community to our best potential. Imraan participated in a session on incorporating art into CAIR events. With our Day of Justice event coming up (May 10 at ICC), this session explored ideas that could be implemented in the next few months. We hope to invite community members with artistic backgrounds to share their talents at this event.
In addition to two days of the meeting in Washington D.C, we also spent two days attending congressional meetings at the nation’s capitol. Apart from the exhilaration of sharing elevators with congressmen and strolling through the senate building, CAIR AZ’s team experienced the gratification of discussing important issues with Arizona’s representatives that concern our community - along with all Americans. Some of the topics we covered were - issues with government watch lists, the increasing manifestation of violent hate speech online, as well as mass surveillance reform. Our team scheduled seven meetings, including both chambers of Congress (Senate and House) - with members of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
The National Council was an exemplary example of the benefits of collaboration, training, and dedication. After just a few days with the CAIR National staff and other chapter members, our team has returned to Arizona with a reenergized passion to serve our community.
Facebook event ICC Day of Justice: Click Here
Photos from the meeting: Click Here