Building on New Foundations > New Strategies, New Organizations

Chicago

Malik Mujahid

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Proprietor, Sound Vision

Muslims have not had organizations in this country. Our mosques are for religious rituals, not social and political centers. We are not making an adequate response from the Muslim side.

In Chicago, Muslims have a Council of Islamic Organizations. It was dormant for ten years. Then 9/11 brought communities together. Before, everyone was concerned about their mosque, their neighborhood. Now there is more coordination.

CAIR [the Council on American-Islamic Relations] is the organization that people have the highest opinion of among Muslims. They are more media-oriented, less focused on pursuing individual cases. CAIR is still developing. As an organization it is not able to deliver for the community yet.

The ethnic organizations are also not strong. We have major problems of joblessness among Muslims. They are the last hired and first fired. In my store, I received more unsolicited resumes last year than during the 15 years I’ve had this business.

The social service network in the mosques has been exhausted – they are just scrambling to meet people’s immediate needs. There are no resources left over for legal assistance, let along for organizing and advocacy.

The banning of more than five Muslim charities has meant that their resources are not available to the community. Donors are also facing harassment. The FBI has been interviewing people; this is well known in the community. For large donors, the FBI will come calling.

For all these reasons, donations to mosques and Muslim charities are down – at a time when the need for services and legal assistance has sharply increased.

Government actions do not reflect a genuine concern for terrorism. They are sowing fear. People make plea bargains with federal agents, and nobody ever knows the reason.

All of the organizations were banned immediately after Ramadan – when people had just given as much as they were able to.

The government needs to return religious donations to the original donors, or else help Muslim communities establish legitimate mechanisms for religious donations. This would require filing a class action suit — but our community does not have the resources to fight such a legal case.

Muslims are the new n— of America. No one will stand up for them. If you “take it” more will come your way. If you fight it, people will respect you and learn from you.