The Crescent Report

March 8, 2010

MAS Freedom and ICNA Conduct Workshop for Palestine-Israel Lobby Event in Washington, D.C.

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 8:15 pm

WASHINGTON, DC (MASNET) Mar. 08, 2010 – On Sunday March 7th, MAS Freedom and the Islamic Circle of North America contributed to a day long program at American University in Washington, D.C., organized by Interfaith Peace Builders, to support more than 100 people from around the United States who will visit their congressional representatives on March 8th, 2010, and call for a new American foreign policy that recognizes the human and democratic rights of the people of Palestine.

The workshop presenters, Naim Baig of ICNA and Ibrahim Ramey, who represented MAS Freedom, provided facts about the history, structure, and current attitudes of Muslims in America, and their own insights related to opportunities that Muslim activists and non-Muslim organizations have to forge stronger, and more mutually successful, partnerships that support
many dimensions of social change in America.

But while the issue of support for broad Palestinian rights, including an end to the embargo of Gaza, was the central theme of the gathering, both Naim Baig and Ibrahim Ramey emphasized the importance of knowing more about the identity of Muslims in America.

Baig’s presentation featured a power point description of major Muslim organizations in the United States and the relationship between these organizations and local mosques and community-based groups. Muslims are the only major religious group in America without a single racial majority community. It was noted by both presenters that Islamic roots in this hemisphere pre-date the arrival of Christopher Columbus by nearly two centuries.

A number of the workshop attendees had experience working with local Muslim groups on the issue of Palestine, but some expressed concern that they want to build more substantial long-term relationships with the American Muslim community. Both presenters commented that Muslims are becoming active in a wider variety of social issues, including immigration rights, labor issues, and even the issue of nuclear weapons abolition. Both MAS Freedom and ICNA maintain numerous working relationships with national Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish leaders and organizations.

Also, work related to issues of social concern for Muslim-American individuals and communities are resulting in the creation of a culture with less insularity and more openness to collaboration with not only other religious forces, but with secular and non-religious groups as well.

Also, in response to one participant who expressed concern that Muslim women were not so evident in the leadership of the community, both presenters, and Muslim women participants, spoke about the numerous examples of outstanding Muslim women leadership in every area of community life, including in academia, social service organizations, and especially within Muslim Student Association groups on college and university campuses.

Ibrahim Ramey then emphasized the centrality of values as a cornerstone in building coalitions. While Muslims base our understanding of social activism and responsibility on the revelation of the Holy Qur’an and the life of Prophet Muhammad ( Peace be Upon Him), he said, we recognize that we also share common values with non-Muslim actors-including the value of human rights, environmental stewardship, peace, and economic security. Those shared values should be paramount in building coalitions of mutual respect.

Finally, the presentation mentioned the work that the Islamic Circle of North America and MAS Freedom do, respectively, to support broad social justice and constructive social change, not only for the people of Palestine, but throughout the world. More than 40 people were introduced to the MAS Freedom Let Gaza Live national postcard campaign, and a number of persons attending the workshop, including several who had traveled to Gaza and the Palestinian Occupied Territories, voiced interest in supporting this initiative.

For more information on the Let Gaza Live initiative, and to find out how you can support it, please call Ibrahim Ramey at MAS Freedom- (703) 642-6165.

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