280 Muslim Delegates Lobby Congress on Historic First National Muslim Advocacy Day
In the first-ever National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., over 280 delegates gathered from more than 20 states to meet with elected officials and congressional staffers. The US Council of Muslim Organizations, a coalition of leading national and local American Muslim organizations, sponsored the historic event.
The day began with Muslim delegates from a number of organizations meeting at the Rayburn House Office Building to acquire lobbying tips from political experts. Afterwards, the delegates were split into groups based on their home state and each group met with representatives and senators from their state. In total, they visited 200 congressional offices, which constitutes one third of the House of Representatives and almost half of the Senate.
The delegates urged their elected representatives to support issues that address the domestic priorities of the American Muslim community, including the following:
Urge the U.S. Department of Justice to amend its racial profiling guidance for federal law enforcement by removing any existing loopholes that continue to permit profiling in the name of national security, domestic surveillance and policing the border. Many of these programs have disproportionately targeted Latinos, Muslims and other minorities, and raise serious due process concerns.
Support of federal legislation that prohibits any federal, state, local and Indian tribal law enforcement agency from engaging in profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or religion. Specifically, they were urged to support and co-sponsor End Racial Profiling Act of 2015
Support of federal legislation that addresses the problems our nation is facing with youth violence by strengthening after-school programs. Specifically they were urged to support and co-sponsor Students Helping Young Students Act of 2015.
“Unity is the cornerstone of this historic day,” said Nihad Awad, the National Executive Director of the council on American Islamic Relations. “This is not only an opportunity for Muslim Americans to express their views but for elected officials to hear directly from their Muslim constituents. Today marks a milestone for our community, and our work advocating on these important issues will continue when we return home.”
“This historic united advocacy day marks the coming of age for the American Muslim community on the national political scene,” said Robert McCaw, chairman of the USCMO Advocacy Day Steering Committee. “The education, equality and social justice agenda promoted by National Muslim Advocacy Day delegates is of benefit to all Americans, regardless of background.”
McCaw said the Advocacy Day exceeded all expectations in terms of nationwide participation by first-time Muslim delegates and of interaction with elected officials and congressional staff.
The founding members of USCMO include: American Muslims for Palestine, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America, Muslim Alliance in North America, Muslim American Society, Muslim Legal Fund of America, Muslim Ummah of North America, The Mosque Cares (Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed).