Excerpt from the CAIR-New York Annual Banquet & Fundraiser
NYU School of Law – Greenberg Lounge
New York, NY
May 9, 2009
Aliya Latif - CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director:
"Salaam aleikum and good evening everyone. My name is Aliya Latif and I am the civil rights director for the New York chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil rights organization, and on behalf of CAIR-NY I would like to welcome you all to tonight's program. This year we chose the theme 'An era of change – rising to the challenge' to inspire the grassroots at a time when America is trying to understand our religion, our rich heritage and our diverse cultures. Our goal at CAIR-NY is to ensure that the path we're learning and understanding is free of misinformation and misrepresentation through our efforts at civil rights advocacy, media engagement, community organizing and the arts, so that our community can define ourselves through our good works and New Yorkers, as Americans, and especially as Muslims.
"To that end I would like to introduce the MC tonight, Fatima Ashraf. Fatima is a community activist, a lifelong student of race, history and politics, and she is the education policy advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She is indeed a great asset to the line of speakers that we have tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, my dear colleague and friend, Fatima Ashraf."
Fatima Ashraf - Community Affairs Director, CAIR-NY:
"Salaam aleikum everyone. Welcome to tonight's event. It is my honor to be here and to be your hostess this evening for CAIR's annual banquet and fundraiser. It's great to work with CAIR. (UI few words). CAIR-NY has risen to become a shining star among Muslim organizations in this country. Their sincerity and motivation and education and genuine desire to make positive change for Muslims is what really makes them stand out. They have gained credibility and trust in our community, in our Muslim community, and also beyond.
Now I have a personal story about this credibility issue. This past Fall I volunteered with CAIR during the presidential election as a phone banker for the get out the vote campaign. So I am calling people all day long. I call this one woman and I say, 'Hello, my name is Fatima and I am calling from CAIR.' She said, 'Where?' I said, 'CAIR.' Now Aliya (Latif) had told me, 'Fatima, please say Council on American Islamic Relations.' But frankly Aliya, after 700 calls, I said hi this is Fatima from CAIR. She says, 'ACORN?' I say, 'No, not ACORN. Where did you get that from?' She said, 'I've been watching the news and I hear ACORN has done some pretty crazy stuff.' I said, 'That's nice but I am calling from CAIR, Council on American Islamic Relations.' She says, 'Oh CAIR. You send all those action alerts.' I said, 'Yes, that's us.' 'Oh, ok sweetheart, what would you like to talk about?' So then my conversation continued with her and that was the moment where I realized that the CAIR name really does get you places."