News & Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 3, 2018
Contact: Rhonda Smith, 202-308-0514, rsmith@faithinaction.org

Historic Talks Among Racially Diverse Muslim American Groups Produce Social Justice Project

‘Silence will not create a country where we all belong’

LOS ANGELES — As the most sacred month of the year in the Islamic calendar approaches, racially diverse groups focusing on social justice will unveil a historic project to strengthen the organizing skills of Muslim Americans nationwide. Ramadan takes place this year from May 15 to June 14.

Leaders of the Muslim Power Building Projecta collaboration of Faith in Action (formerly PICO National Network),  LA Voice, the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, MPower Change, and MuslimARCwill discuss this initiative on Tuesday, May 8, during a media conference call at 1 p.m. EDT and 10 a.m. PDT.

Muslim Americans of Bangladeshi, Black American, Iranian, Latina, Pakistani and Palestinian descent comprise the steering committee.

To register for the conference call, click here.

Islam is one of the most misunderstood and reviled religions in the United States and openly embracing their faith can sometimes be dangerous for Muslim Americans in today’s political climate. But the project’s leaders said it is important for them to be vocal and visible while raising the voices of other Muslim Americans,especially today. Silence will not create a country where we all belong.

“Ramadan is a time of reflection and taking inventory of our spiritual health. We fast and pray and gather for community and family,” said Sarah Jawaid, director of special projects at L.A. Voice, one of Faith in Action’s 45 affiliated federations in 21 states. “One of the major tenets of Islam is also social justice. This project is about living out our faith and building collective power while connecting American Muslim communities of all colors to a shared vision of justice and giving them the tools to live into that vision.”

The Muslim Power Building Project is needed now more than ever. Muslim Americans increasingly faceIslamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate crimes are on the rise. The discriminatory Muslim travel ban before the U.S. Supreme Court would hurt Muslims worldwide, the leaders said, and also signals the need for this project.

In addition to Jawaid, other speakers during the call will be:

  • Shamar Hemphill, senior organizer and director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network’s campaigns and policy work, and an adjunct professor at Chicago Theological Union. IMAN is a community organization that fosters health, wellness and healing in cities by organizing for social change, cultivating the arts, and operating a holistic health center.
  • New York City-based Ishraq Aliorganizing director of MPower Change, the largest Muslim-led racial and social justice organization in the United States. He is a community organizer trained in faith-based and grassroots advocacy.
  • Margari Hillco-founder and managing director of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), which provides education and resources to advance racial justice.

Background: Organizers began discussing the need for the Muslim Power Building Project in October 2017, following a two-day training geared toward connecting various Faith in Action federations and the partner organizations.

A key component of the initiative involves selecting applicants for the first training cohort who have less than three years of experience working or volunteering with community-based organizations in Muslim communities. Hundreds of individuals have been nominated to participate in the first training to date.

The nominees will be notified in mid-May. The first Muslim Power Building Project is scheduled to begin in June.

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