Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Large and Generous Crowd make CAIR-AL's Fundraiser a Success by Orooj Chandiwala

CAIR Alabama hosted its second annual fundraising banquet on November 5, 2017, at Haven.  Approximately 300 guests enjoyed the program and dinner catered by B&A Warehouse Catering.  
Khaula Hadeed, CAIR-AL executive director, spoke about the growth of CAIR-AL over the past two years.  She remembered a time when an Alabama chapter of CAIR was just a fledgling idea.  Over the past two years they’ve succeeded at establishing a media presence and defending victims of hate crimes all over the state.  Nihad Awad, CAIR National Executive Director, spoke about the rising incidence of hate crimes against Muslims, but also the unprecedented solidarity Muslims have experienced at airports and mosques.  He ended his speech with an inspirational message:  If you want to see the change for a positive Muslim image, get involved.
This year the Building Bridges Interfaith Leadership Award was given to two recipients, Dr. Mahmood Zaied of Montgomery, AL, and Aladin Beshir of Huntsville, AL.  Dr. Zaied worked tirelessly to obtain approval by his local Homeowner’s Association to build a mosque, often knocking on doors to meet with dissenters personally.  His efforts paid off and the construction of the mosque was approved.  Mr. Beshir spent decades promoting positive interfaith relationships.  He is the Director of Outreach for the Huntsville Islamic Center.  He is a long standing board member of the International Society of Huntsville, an organization that broadens awareness of diverse cultures through cultural, educational, and social programming.  His real passion, however, is serving as President of Interfaith Mission Services.  Interfaith Mission Services is a co-op of forty religious institutions who work together to promote social justice, create interfaith dialogue, provide direct service to those in immediate need, and address racial inequalities and cultural barriers.  Khaula Hadeed was then presented with a surprise gift and donation to CAIR from King Simmons Law Firm - a framed photograph of Mohammad Ali’s famous knockout punch against Sonny Liston to represent the ongoing fight for justice.
Hassan Shibly, CAIR-FL Executive Director, conducted the fundraising.  CAIR-AL Board of Directors got the ball rolling with a $30,000 donation.  Several organizations subsequently joined in, including Birmingham Islamic Society ($10K), Madison Islamic Masjid ($10K), Gadsden Islamic Society ($10K), Huntsville Islamic Center ($10K), Anniston Islamic Center($11K), and The Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America ($5K).  Individual contributions totaled over $70,000.  Thanks to inspirational speakers, Shibly’s dynamic fundraising, and the generosity of donors, the evening raised over $150,000!  
The evening concluded with a speech by the guest speaker, Linda Sarsour, Co-Founder of MPower Change and Co-Chair of Women’s March National.  Sarsour came to “tell like it like it is” as an “unapologetically Muslim-American, Palestinian-American, from Brooklyn, NY.”  She presented a realistic view of modern white privilege, Islamophobia, racism, and misogyny.  She reminded us of our history of segregation and Japanese internment, and asked us to never allow these things to happen again.  Her ultimate message was one of hope – hope for a positive future if we all participate in the ongoing fight for justice by not being bystanders during difficult times.

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