The Council on American-Islamic Relations is currently at the forefront of the fight for Muslim civil rights in the post-9/11 United States.
Based in Washington, DC, the group's role has evolved. When it was first established in 1994, its focus was primarily on speaking out against media bias towards Islam and Muslims in the news, as well as in the entertainment industry. From there, CAIR went from being reactive to pro-active, by educating employers and teachers across the nation about Muslim needs and concerns, and teaching Muslims about their rights, thus leading the organization into its primary role in the civil rights arena today.
CAIR has dealt with hundreds of cases of discrimination and bias against Muslims since 9/11, including a high profile one involving a Muslim secret service agent kicked off a plane who was en route to protect US President George W. Bush last year.
The advocacy group has also, since 1996, published a report on the state of Muslim rights and discrimination against Muslims in America. In April, it issued "The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States", which details incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, stereotyping, discrimination, and harassment during 2001, while presenting the backlash against Islam and Muslims that occurred following 9/11, as well as how anti-terrorism laws and policies resulting from 9/11 have affected Muslim civil rights in the US.
CAIR's website is at www.cair.com
2. The Muslim Public Affairs Council
MPAC is probably the oldest organization working for the civil rights of Muslim Americans. Established in 1988, it also aims to introduce Islam into mainstream American culture. It is well-known amongst Muslims in America for its efforts to involve Muslims in the US political process. It does this through events like meetings with presidential candidates, entertainers and local elected officials, setting up hospitality suites at Democratic and Republican state conventions, and sponsoring regional meetings to determine the needs of its constituents.
Most of MPAC's work focuses on monitoring the media, contacting legislators, decision-makers, and working with other religious and ethnic organizations. Research and organization about Islam and Muslims in America is also part of its work.
Its website is www.mpac.org
3. The Muslim Legal Fund Of America
This nascent organization was established this year, and aims to provide funding to any American Muslim individual or Muslim institutions indicted for, charged with or convicted of offenses for being Muslim, "holding and/or expressing opinions friendly to Islam and Muslims and for engaging in legal activities which promote and protect the image and interest of Islam and Muslims."
The funds, its website emphasizes, are from US-based sources.
The group also says it will file Friend of the Court in cases in which it is not directly involved to defend a particular individual, Muslim or non-Muslim.
Its website is https://www.mlfa.org/
4. The Muslim Civil Rights Center
This Chicago-based organization was formed in 1998 to develop a concerted and collective voice of resistance against discriminatory actions against Muslims in the United States. Although one of its aims is also to support Muslim individuals and organizations whose civil rights have been violated, its primary focus is educating Muslims in the US about civil rights. This it has done through symposiums and workshops on civil rights issues impacting the Muslim communities in the Chicago area.
The Muslim Civil Rights Center's website is at www.muslimcivilrights.com