A review of some existing Muslim civil rights organziations


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


e Muslim American Society Immigrant Justice Center. MASIJC provides comprehensive immigration legal services to low income immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. MASIJC is a project of the Muslim American Society and is the first Muslim organization certified by Department of Justice and Board of Immigrant Appeals. MASIJC provides low-cost, and often free means tested immigration counseling and support to families and individuals who are eligible for immigration benefits and cannot afford private assistance. Our mission is to work for solidarity in our community by welcoming the stranger. We recognize the inalienable right of all persons to human dignity. We therefore assist and advocate for immigrants to attain family unity, economic independence and social integration.www.masijc.orgWithout legal representation, detained immigrants have little hope of winning their cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the nation’s highest administrative appeals court for decisions made by Immigration Judges. Immigrants are often detained in areas far from legal resources, face language barriers, and lack familiarity with the U.S. legal system.Without a legal assistance it is almost impossible to overcome these barriers and present a legal claim to relief to remain in the country. MASIJC was created to address these challenges.The agency is recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) as a program that provides low-cost immigration counseling and has the necessary experience and knowledge relating to immigration law and procedures.Our goal is to ensure that all individuals and families have access to affordable immigration-related services.Initial consultations and legal advice are provided concerning your immigration questions. All inquiries are confidential in nature. We are not the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); however, MASIJC personnel are authorized to present cases before the USCIS and immigration court. If you are eligible for certain immigration benefits, our experienced, multilingual staff of attorneys and immigration specialists can assist with application preparation and supporting documentation.



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