USCMO Hosts 3rd Annual National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill
On Monday and Tuesday, May 1st-2nd, 2017 the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) held its third Annual National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. More than 400 activists representing 30 states convened on Capitol Hill to connect national, regional and state Muslim Organizations, community members and activists with their elected representatives.
The delegates met with around 230 elected officials and congressional staffers during this year's record-breaking Advocacy Day, despite the anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies disseminating from the White House. Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen Corey Booker (D-NJ), Sen Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sen Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Sen Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), Congressman Al Green (D-TX), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Congresswoman Terri A.Sewell (D-AL), Congressman Gary Palmer (D-AL), Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin were among the elected officials who met Muslim leaders and delegates.
USCMO'S advocacy day event focused on promoting a legislative agenda in support of equality and social justice issues that will be of benefit to all Americans, regardless of faith or background, including:
- A round up endorsement of people against the Muslim ban, religious questioning and registry legislation
- Supporting DREAMers and raising concerns about the Secure Communities Program's impact on civil liberties and immigrant communities
- Endorsing the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act
There are several bills in both House and the Senate that seek protection from the Presidential Executive Order on travel, effectively known as the Muslim Ban, as well as a registry based on religion. This year, the big ask was to support Sen. Ben Cardin's End Racial and Religious Profiling Act of 2017 (ERRPA), a bill that would effectively eliminate racial, religious, and other forms of discriminatory profiling by law enforcement.
"Muslim Advocacy Day teaches the community that our civil duty does not start and end at the ballot box," said Khalil Meek, executive director of Muslim Legal Fund of America, a national charity that funds legal work to defend constitutional rights for Muslims in America. "We have to be actively engaged with legislators and other communities to advocate for laws that are good for all Americans."
MAS Executive Director Mazen Mokhtar said: "The time has come for everyone to realize that we are an integral part of the fabric of this country. Today I do not expect that we will meet our representatives and we will magically, just automatically change their minds. But we will get to know them and they will get to know us. And time after time, our values and our causes will become more familiar. And time after time it will become increasingly difficult to target any group, Muslim or non-Muslim that is active."
The goal of the event was to encourage American Muslims visit thier capital, meet with their representatives, and advocate important issues affecting thier communities, especially after the recent change in administration and anti-Muslim rhetoric leading to concerning policies being enacted. " USCMO's National Advocacy Day is a manifestation of the power of unity when American Muslims come together for a common purpose, connecting with our representatives and advocating for laws and legislations that will protect our community and highlight American values" said USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal. Overall, the 3rd Annual National Muslim Advocacy day on Capitol Hill was an overwhelming success that saw a turnout larger than any previous year.
USCMO Board Members Meet with Ambassadors from France and Spain
US Council of Muslim Organizations' (USCMO) Secretary General, Oussama Jammal and members of the board Roula Allouch (CAIR), Osama Abu Irshaid (AMP), Imam Talib Shareef (Ministry of Imam W.D. Mohammad) and Mazen Mokhtar (MAS) met with the Ambassador of France H.E. Gerard Araud on Monday, October 3rd. They discussed the situation of French Muslims and their integration into society as well as civil rights issues. They also discussed the situations in Syria and Iraq with emphasis on the refugee crisis. The meeting was very candid and informative with all parties exchanging different points of view and ideas in light of increased open dialogue with France.
Secretary General Oussama Jammal also met with the Spanish Ambassador H.E. Ramon Gil-Casares and Ambassador Belan Alfaro, the ambassador at large for the Alliance of Civilizations and Inter-religious Dialogue in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the UN General Assembly. They discussed the Muslim communities in both Spain and the United States and their shared views of enhancing interfaith dialogue and collaboration. USCMO commended Spain for hosting inter-faith conferences aimed at bringing Muslims, Christians and Jews closer together. Later, a delegation from USCMO met with officials at the Embassy of Spain to continue discussions on Muslim affairs in both countries.
USCMO Pays Their Respects at the Funeral of Muhammad Ali
The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) offers its heartfelt condolences and is saddened by the passing of Muhammad Ali at the age of 74, a legend and an icon of inspiration, after a 32-year battle with Parkinson's disease. USCMO Board members and Secretary General Oussama Jammal Attended his funeral to pay their respects.
Born in Louisville Kentucky in 1942 Muhammad Ali would go on to become the worlds single greatest heavyweight champion and the most famous and influential American Muslim to date, spending his life fighting for human and civil rights.
Ali began training at the age of 12 and by the age of 22 he had won the world heavyweight championship in 1964. Shortly after, Ali joined the Nation of Islam and subsequently converted to Sunni Islam in 1975 and permanently retiring from boxing by 1981.
Not only a heavyweight champion, Ali went on to become a true champion and icon for human rights and political activism. Among his many inspirational words of wisdom Ali is quoted as saying " Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth". Three years after winning the heavyweight title Ali refused to be conscripted into the US Military citing his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam war.
Throughout his life, Ali stood firmly for his beliefs shining a positive light on Islam and Muslims. As a proud Muslim, Muhammad Ali brought awareness of Islam and the beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to every household across the world.
A true legend, Muhammad Ali's legacy will continue to inspire the American Muslim community and all of humanity for decades to come.
May the Almighty Allah bless his soul and bring comfort and solace to his family.
Successful Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill
April 18, 2016
On Monday, April 18th, 2016 the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) hosted the Second Annual National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Representing 28 States more than 330 activists convened on Capitol Hill to connect national, regional and state Muslim Organizations, community members and activists with their elected representatives. The goal of the event was to connect the Muslim community with members of congress as well as allow the Muslim community to advocate for the issues concerning their communities and the Nation. In total 225 meetings with congressional offices were completed.
The issues discussed were of specific importance to American Muslims but also relevant to all Americans and the Nation. The four issues that were the main focus of this years’ Advocacy Day included:
- Requesting that the House and Senate support resolutions recognizing and condemning Islamophobia. Request to House offices: Co-sponsor and support Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA) and Mike Honda’s (D-CA) resolution condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States. Request to Senate offices: Co-sponsor and support Senator Maize Hirono’s resolution commemorating the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and affirming that America must stand against xenophobic sentiments directed to members of Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities
- Representatives in the U.S. House should co-sponsor and support Congressmen Ellison and Fitzpatrick’s Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2015 (H.R. 3035). Millions of Americans lack credit scores or have scores that are too low to gain access to affordable credit. The problem disproportionately affects young people, Muslim Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, and immigrants, many of whom can't establish a credit score without taking on credit debt. H.R. 3035 would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to allow utility and telecom companies and landlords to report on-time payment data to credit reporting agencies—helping those with little to no credit build their credit scores based on a full picture of their payment history.
- Representatives in the U.S. House should co-sponsor and support The Food Deserts Act. The bill would establish a revolving fund to provide low interest loans for the operation of for-profit, non-profit and municipally owned stores in many urban and rural communities by providing loans for the operation of grocery stores in food deserts. Under this bill, thousands of under served families would get access to the affordable food they need.
- Request to the House and Senate that given the low-level of Muslim community confidence in government-led CVE, the USCMO believes that Congress should at least ensure: 1) Greater transparency and accountability of government led CVE programs, 2) Oversight of any future programs, 3) Freedom of speech & privacy protections, and, 4) Anti-discrimination & profiling protections.
Prior to the event a series of online seminars was available to train registered participants in valuable advocacy techniques and prepare them for congressional meetings. The delegates were split into groups according to their state of origin and each group convened with offices of their state senators and with representatives from their congressional district.
This years’ event surpassed Advocacy Day 2015 with more delegate participation representing a broader spectrum of States and a greater number of congressional visits. The Second Annual National Muslim Advocacy Day was a thriving success thanks to the collaborative efforts of a broad coalition of Muslim organizations, demonstrating the strength that can only be achieved through hard work and unified efforts.
While this years' Advocacy day was a fantastic and successful event USCMO was saddened by Senator Ted Cruz and his Capitol Hill Staff's refusal to meet with a group of 14 Muslim constituents from his home State of Texas after weeks of trying to set up a meeting. USCMO held a press conference on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 expressing their dismay with the senators reception and treatment of his own constituents. This raises serious concern over Ted Cruz's bid for the Presidential Post and the message it conveys to the American people when a Presidential candidate will not meet with constituents from his own State. To see pictures from the event click here...
USCMO Announces the Washington Declaration
February 1-3, 2016
The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) organized the 1st International Conference of Muslim Councils in the West - a major initiative for Muslims in Western nations - in Washington, D.C., February 1-3 in Arlington, Va.
This conference was the first of its kind to bring Muslim leaders around the world together to exchange experiences and to discuss common issues of concern to our communities. A conference of this scale, uniting the voices of Muslims across the Western Hemisphere and world, is vital to our continued growth and development as a global community. The 200 attendees included representatives from Muslim Councils and their member organizations from North America, South America, the Caribbean, Australia, and Europe.
International representatives presented reports on Muslims in their respective countries.
Conference discussions focused on:
- Identifying and developing strategic priorities for the Muslim communities in the West,
- Exchanging ideas and developing strategies to address the rise of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry in the West,
- Developing ways with which to challenge and counteract the problem of violent extremism in all its forms,
- Enhancing the integration and positive contributions of Muslim communities in the societies in which they live,
- Developing strategies for the resettlement of the new waves of refugees and exchanging experiences and resources.
The Conference was a successful and productive event with participants discussing issues and working together to propose solutions. The leaders were able to come up with a set of initiatives and proposals for further deliberation. The conference resolved that:
The leaders participating in the conference have acknowledged the need and have agreed to form a Coordinating Body of Muslim Councils in the West and have formed a steering committee to implement this decision.
"We will continue to engage in civic, social, political and educational areas to better integrate the Muslims in their own countries, as well as internationally", Said Oussama Jammal, Secretary General of USCMO.
The historic conference was a vibrant open discussion with enthusiastic participation from a diverse set of leaders who represented the Muslim community in the West. A commitment to continue such meetings, which bring leaders together for a common purpose and a vision for our community, was agreed on by all.
USCMO Attends the 14th Annual MAS-ICNA Convention
December 26-28, 2015
The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) attended and participated in the 14th annual MAS-ICNA convention titled Muhammad (PBUH) Mercy to Mankind taking place from December 26-28th, 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. The MAS-ICNA convention is one of the largest and most diverse conventions in North America with over 18 thousand attendees this year.
USCMO Secretary General, Oussama Jammal, addressed the opening ceremony of the convention and delivered several additional presentations throughout the three day event. His speeches focused on mobilizing the American Muslim community by urging the crowd to get involved in the political process, encouraging them to vote and take part in USCMO’s voter registration campaign.
The convention featured several renowned speakers, scholars, and Imams from around the world. Some of these speakers included Tariq Ramadan, Yusuf Estes, Nouman Ali Khan, Yasmin Mogahed, Omar Suleiman, Zaid Shakir, Dalia Mogahed and Suhaib Webb. Furthermore, the event featured a vibrant and expansive bazaar with everything from clothing and jewelry to home goods, books and charity outreach booths. USCMO had a voter registration booth set up in the bazaar with the goal of educating and mobilizing American Muslims to register to vote.
The convention ended with an entertainment session featuring several artists including Harris J, Maher Zain, Hamza Namira, Native Deen, Raef and comedian Omar Regan. Overall, the convention was a vibrant success drawing in people from all over the United States and Canada.
USCMO Attends American Muslims for Palestine's (AMP) 8th Annual Conference for Palestine in the US
November 26-28, 2015
From November 26-28th, 2015 the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) attended and participated in American Muslims for Palestine’s (AMP) 8th annual conference for Palestine in the U.S titled Reclaiming our Narrative. The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency, O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois.
The conference featured international and national speakers including but not limited to Sh. Abdelfattah Mourou, Author and Journalist Max Blumenthal, Scholar Bill Fletcher, Dr. Muhammad Abbasi, Dr. Manal Fakhoury, Judge William Haddad and Guest of Honor His Excellency Mohamed al-Moncef al- Marzouki the former president of Tunisia.
The conference also included a lively bazaar featuring non-profit organizations, media, and retailers as well as a Palestine Museum featuring traditional Palestinian artifacts, clothing, jewelry and much more. The conference was a vibrant success with presentations on many important topics and open discussions relating to the Palestinian issue and its relation and importance to American Muslims. The AMP conference is the largest gathering for Palestine in the United States.
USCMO holds Press Conference to Strongly Condemn the Terror Attacks in Paris
November 14, 2015
The US Council of Muslim Organizations strongly condemns the abhorrent terror attacks that took place yesterday in Paris and left over 150 innocent people dead and scores injured. USCMO stands consistent with its position against all forms of violence against innocent people anywhere in Turkey, Beirut, Syria, Paris, and on our soil irrespective of the perpetrators, targets, or reasons. These repugnant acts of violence defy the sanctity of every innocent human live and shall always be condemned and rejected.
The US Council of Muslim Organizations sends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of France and stands in solidarity with them against terrorism and violent extremism. We ask the American Muslim community around the nation to hold candle light vigils in memory of the victims and in support of their families.
USCMO ADDRESSES THE 40TH ANNUAL ICNA-MAS CONVENTION
May 23, 2015
Over the Memorial Day weekend, The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) attended The Islamic Circle of North America’s (ICNA) 40th annual ICNA-MAS convention in Baltimore, MD. Giving a speech for the opening ceremony, USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal called for the Muslim community and its organizations to stand united in the face of our challenges. Some of the challenges outlined in his speech included confronting issues such as islamophobia, racial profiling, social injustice, violent extremism, unequal opportunity and poverty. To watch video of the speech click here...
The theme of the convention was “Muhammad: Peace and Blessings be Upon Him”. Among the 20,000 attendees were 140 prominent scholars from all over the world who provided insight into, and lectures about, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In recent times, Muslims have witnessed the vilification of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by certain groups and individuals that seek only to spread hatred and misunderstanding. The goal of the conference was to provide Muslims and non-Muslims alike with a better understanding of the Prophet and how his legacy of justice, compassion and peace can shape our lives, and society as a whole, in a positive way.
The convention has come a long way since its first inception. The Islamic Society of Central Jersey’s Imam Shibly- who was at the first conference- pointed this out with a photo montage of the first prayer congregation consisting of 17 people, making it abundantly clear the enormous growth and success of the convention, which thousands could be seen praying at in congregation over the weekend.
As many Muslims as there were filling the lecture halls, a comparable amount browsed the lively bazaar, which was filled with a vast array of goods including Islamic clothing, literature and home decor. Additionally, several community outreach and charity booths were available, encouraging attendees to donate and help the community in any way they can. Many people attending the convention donated items to the ICNA Relief booth, while volunteers prepared 400 “blessing bags”, filling them with hygienic necessities and nutritional snacks to be distributed to those in need.
Convention attendees were also introduced to the free ICNA-MAS convention mobile application. The application allows users to benefit from several features including creating a personal convention schedule, biographies of the speakers, a bazaar map, and instant program updates.
Overall, the atmosphere at the convention was one of exuberance and learning. Every year the convention brings new, innovative ideas to life that continue to attract Muslims from across the globe. The continued growth and diversity of the convention each year speaks to its success.
USCMO Holds the First National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill
April 13, 2015
On Monday, April 13th, 2015 The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) hosted the first ever National Muslim advocacy day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Representing more than 20 states, 280 Muslims descended on Capitol Hill in efforts to connect national, regional, and state Muslim organizations, community members and activists with their elected representatives. The aim of the event was to develop influence and goodwill between the Muslim community and congress.
The issues at hand were relevant to all Americans, but it was specifically Muslim Americans that discussed how these issues affect their lives personally and the country as a whole.
Prior to the event a series of online seminars was available to train registered participants in valuable advocacy techniques and prepare them for congressional meetings. The day began at The Rayburn House office building where political experts gave Muslim delegates advice and lobbying tips on how to communicate their advocacy issues effectively.
The delegates were then split into groups according to their state of origin and each group convened with offices of their state senators and with representatives from their congressional district. In total, 200 congressional offices were visited amounting to approximately a third of The House of Representatives and nearly half of the Senate.
The focus of the discussions was to address issues that are of increasing concern to Muslims, such as government surveillance and racial profiling. The delegates urged representatives to support the following issues of concern:
- Convincing congress to urge the U.S Department of Justice to amend its racial profiling guidance for federal law enforcement through the process of removing loopholes that allow profiling to flourish under the guise of border protection, surveillance, and national security.
- Corroborate Federal legislation that prohibits any federal, state, local or Indian tribal law enforcement agency from profiling based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or religion, and to endorse and co-sponsor the End Racial Profiling Act of 2015.
- Introduced a bill to congress that was proposed by Congressman Andre Carson (D-IN). It aims to address continual problems with youth-violence through strengthening and endorsing after school programs that allow for college students to take part in them using federal work study hours such as the Students Helping Young Students Act of 2015.
The day’s success can be attributed to the collaborative efforts of a broad coalition of Muslim organizations and demonstrates the strength and influence that can be achieved through unified efforts. More photos for the event can be seen here...
National Muslim-Christian Initiative
March 24-25, 2015
A meeting of the National Muslim-Christian Initiative, a major dialogue between Muslim and Christian leaders, took place in late March, gathering together nearly 40 Christian and Muslim senior representatives from around the country to engage issues of concern to both communities, including deliberate discussion of Islamphobia in the US and religious extremist ideology abroad. The meeting included a public evening program with more than 100 people present, on the intersection of religious freedom and respect for what others hold sacred.
The initiative, begun in 2008 and having last met in 2011, is an integral part of the 30+ years of relationship between Christian communions connected through the National Council of Churches and Muslim organizations. The pause in meetings was due to organizational and programmatic factors in both communities.
The resumption was met with enthusiasm by all participants. This spirit was captured in the welcoming remarks of one of the initiative’s co-conveners, Rev. Dr. Christine Hong of the Presbyterian Church USA, who noted the urgency of the need for this dialogue because of the horrible violence taking place in other parts of the world, and the racial and religious tension going on here in the US. “This dialogue,” Hong said, “asks us how we can accompany one another in the midst of these problems, and how we might better help build a healthy society.”
Dr. Peter Makari, also a dialogue co-convener, pointed out that the past success of the initiative in addressing difficult issues came because of the participants’ insistence to address difficult theological and sociological issues without glossing over differences. He lifted up issues pertaining to the document, “A Common Word Between Us and You,” as an example. He also lamented that the stakes are now higher, “with attacks on Christians, Muslims, and other communities that do not conform being carried out in some parts of the Middle East in the name of Islam, and hate crimes being perpetrated against US Muslims, also in the name of religion.”
The meeting, brought together through the convening efforts of the National Council of Churches and the United States Council of Muslim Organizations, was hosted by the Episcopal Church Center in New York, and the evening program was hosted by the Islamic Cultural Center, also in New York. The meeting was held in conjunction with the board meetings of Religions for Peace USA, so as to take advantage of the overlap both of participants and of issues. Christian participants, from the Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox traditions, and Muslim participants, from Arab, South Asian and African American Muslim communities, collectively brought pastoral and theological experience, as well as academic and advocacy experience, to the table.
Commenting on the broad perspectives of Muslim and Christian leaders present, Mr. Naeem Baig of the Islamic Circle of North America, and also an initiative co-convener, stated that this was essential to addressing pertinent issues in a sustained and effective manner. “If we wish, as we committed to do,” Baig said, “to critically appraise respective wrongs, help to heal memories, highlight respect for religious differences, and address the alienation, feelings of helplessness, and fear that lead to extremism, intolerance and violence, the collective wisdom of all such partners is necessary.”
Dr. Tony Kireopoulos, another of the initiative’s co-conveners, noted that the next session, to be held in late fall, will focus the dialogue moving forward on reframing the narrative. He also noted that a webinar will be held in summer on a related topic as a bridge between sessions. “Creating a new narrative is essential to countering the kinds of extremism and violence we’re seeing abroad by those within the Islamic community that wrongfully use their own religion for political ends,” Kireopoulos said, “and the kinds of hatred we see here in our own country aimed at Muslims whose faith is being wrongfully manipulated from the inside and maligned from the outside.”
More photos of the event can be seen here.
USCMO Holds Community Forum on Countering Violent Extremism
Februaly 10, 2015
In a gathering of approximately fifty U.S Muslim leaders, the U.S Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) hosted an all-day community forum regarding the American Muslim community's role in countering violent extremism (CVE).
Differing viewpoints on CVE were addressed by a speaker from the Department of Homeland Security as well as speakers from the ACLU, Amnesty International, and the Brennan Center for Justice.
There are various viewpoints and proposed strategies regarding the roles that Muslims can play in combating extremism and the degree of responsibility that the Muslim community and institutions have in this regard. There is also a spectrum of opinions regarding how deeply involved the government should be in community initiatives and how this impacts civil liberties.
The day-long forum was composed of four sessions focusing on four different areas of discussion and concluded with the fourth session drafting a guideline.
Session one was led by speaker Kareem Shora, Chief, Community Engagement Section, CRC-DHS. This session discussed the U.S government's perspective on CVE since releasing their national strategy to prevent violent extremism in 2011, and attorney general Holder announcement in 2014 that Boston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles are to be the pilot cities for the CVE program.
The second session was held to discuss the issue of American liberty and its place in the government led CVE initiatives. USCMO endorsed an ACLU-led coalition letter that outlined concerns regarding Obama's CVE initiative. Two major concerns were raised:
- The program's unacceptable framing of American Muslims as suspicious.
- The prospective impact on religious and political free expression.
The speakers in session two included:
- Michael German, Fellow to the Liberty and National Security program, Brennan Center.
- Hina Shamsi, Director, National Security Project, ACLU.
- Naureen Shah; Director- Security and Human Rights Program, Amnesty International.
Session three was held as a collective leadership discussion. Its focus was to discuss what our appropriate role is in CVE. Efforts by extremists to recruit and spread their ideologies is a reality in some Muslim communities, but is largely unsuccessful. These issues need to be discussed by leaders in a manner that aims to prevent the alienation or targeting of Muslims as a whole. The question of our role in preventing this threat by utilizing and forming community led initiatives versus government led initiatives was raised for consideration.
The fourth and final session considered what actions in CVE are appropriate. As a responsible Muslim community it is our responsibility to prevent even one successful case of extremist recruitment even if they are few and far between. CVE utilizes cultural competence training for law enforcement, efforts to counter extremist ideology, and efforts to prevent and disrupt violent extremist recruitment efforts. This session included stories of success and provided the attendees with the best plan of action.
Following the presentations participants discussed and considered the issues at hand. In accordance with the Shura process, the USCMO embraced the following points on CVE:
- They are disappointed that the administration has not responded to our concerns that were addressed in the ACLU-led letter.
- On the basis of media information and personal experience the USCMO is very concerned that law enforcement efforts and CVE programs may be backed by intelligence gathering activities and other abusive law enforcement practices - particularly concerning the FBI
- The Islamic faith and this council reject violent extremism.
- It is constitutionally questionable and morally inept that the administration for CVE seems to be singling out the Muslim community in particular.
- There are concerns over the issue that various local community leaders have had to shut down political discussions due to the fear of their words being misconstrued or misinterpreted and hasty law enforcement abuses. Religious leaders should feel free to preach guidance from Islamic sources to help spread a positive understanding of the faith among at-risk persons. Freedom of speech is important to USCMO and individuals should feel the freedom to discuss occurrences of civil liberties abuses and foreign policy issues.
- There is a noticeable lack of specification and detailed information regarding the Obama administrations current CVE initiative.
- The council has agreed that African American Muslims have a higher degree of experience dealing with these types of negative U.S government policies than the rest of the American Muslim Community. Shura from African Americans needs to be increased in order to develop a complete understanding of the unique issues they face.
- It was noted that the Obama administrations statements regarding CVE issues since September have not given credit to the numerous and significant contributions that American Muslims have made towards protecting our nation.
- Due to the lack of confidence in the government-led CVE, the USCMO believes it is best to support and establish community-driven practices and programs.
Later, on February 18th, 2015 USCMO secretary general Oussama Jammal attended the White House summit on countering violent extremism to represent and voice the concerns of the USCMO.
USCMO Offers Condolences On Chapel Hill Murders, Urges Further Investigation By Authorities
February 11, 2015
The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) expresses its deepest condolences to the families of Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-SAlha, 21 and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19, who were murdered execution style, by their anti-thiest neighbor Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, in what was possibly a hate motivated crime.
Taking into account the perpetrator’s social media condemnations and anti-religion statements posts, we call upon the FBI and local authorities of Chapel Hill, N.C. to further investigate any possible hate motives and treat this case as a hate crime.
At the time when the White House is hosting a summit on violent extremism, this terrible tragedy reflects that extremism has no religion, identity or community.
The Secretary General and leaders from the council have traveled to North Carolina to express their condolences and to participate in the funeral of the three victims which takes place tomorrow, Thursday February 12, 2015, after the midday prayer at the Islamic Association of Raleigh.
Attending MAS-ICNA 2014: USCMO Announces Muslim Advocacy Day, Yearly Update
December 28, 2014
The 13th MAS-ICNA annual convention of 2014 was nothing less than spectacular! It broke the record of attendance with more than 15,000 American Muslims converging on the Windy City from across the country. US Council of Muslim Organizations' Secretary-General Oussama Jammal addressed the convention and presented USCMO’s year in review. The convention was held from December 25-29, at the McCormick Place Convention Center.
In addition to the yearly update, Jammal announced plans to host the first-of-its-kind National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 2015.
The event is designed to connect national, regional and state Muslim organizations, community members with more than one third of the U.S. House of Representatives and a half of the Senate. Advocacy day issues will focus on the domestic priorities of the American Muslim community.
"USCMO is growing and making progress," said Oussama Jammal, Secretary General of USCMO. "Truly, together we can grasp the firmest handhold that never breaks."
During the 12th annual MAS-ICNA convention in 2013, prominent Muslim leaders united to announce the creation of USCMO as an umbrella group that will serve as a representative voice for the Muslim community.
CAIR Celebrates 20 Years Of Justice, Civil Rights Advocacy
September 27, 2014
Members of the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) attended a banquet held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) at the Crystal City Marriot in Arlington, VA. The banquet was held in celebration of CAIR’s 20th anniversary and was attended by over 1,000 people including community members, activists, diplomats, and civil rights and interfaith leaders. Among the speakers were Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), who accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who received CAIR's American Muslim of the Year Award. Civil rights leader and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton sent a message by video.
In 1994, Nihad Awad and a group of community activists founded CAIR as a civil liberties and advocacy organization. Since then, CAIR has become the largest US Muslim civil rights organization and has remained steadfast in its fight for justice.
Oussama Jammal, USCMO secretary-general, was presented with the Community Builder Award. “Our sincerest congratulations to CAIR on its 20th anniversary. It has been a pleasure to witness their achievements and growth these past years and we are thankful for CAIR’s service and continuous dedication,” said Jammal, “It is a privilege to be associated with CAIR and we look forward to continuing our work alongside them for years to come.”
USCMO Delegation Meets With OIC Secretary General
September 25, 2014
A delegation from the USCMO met with Mr. Iyad Madani, the new Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at its UN permanent observer mission in New York. The focus of this meeting was issues concerning the Muslim American community and ideas for future relations with OIC. The meeting was hosted by Dr. Ufuk Gokcen, Ambassador of OIC . The delegation was later invited to a special reception at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The delegation included Oussama Jammal, Secretary General of USCMO; Muhammad T. Rahman, Secretary of USCMO; Naeem Baig, President of ICNA; Mazen Mokhtar, Executive Director of MAS; W. Deen Mohammed II, President of The Mosque Cares (Ministry of Imam W. D. Mohammed); and Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA.
USCMO Endorses Open Letter to ISIS Refuting "Islamic State" Claim
September 24, 2014
The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of several leading national and local Muslim organizations, in conjunction with the Fiqh Council of North America, as well as national and local Muslim scholars and leaders came together at the National Press Club news conference in Washington, D.C. to release an open letter addressed to ISIS, the self-proclaimed “Islamic State”, refuting their ideology and rejecting their justifications for the brutal actions against innocent people.
More than 120 Muslim scholars, both international and local, have signed the 28-page letter, written in Arabic and translated to English. The letter covers 24 issues claimed to be key factors in motivating their actions are analyzed alongside the deconstruction of ISIS’s justification by experts on Islamic law. The open letter’s executive summary states Islam forbids the killing of innocents, denying the rights of women and children and harming or mistreating “People of the Scripture” i.e. Christians and Jews, or minorities such as Yazidis. The entire letter and list of signatories can be found here.
"The US Council of Muslim Organizations has stated in the past and continues to hold its position of condemning terrorism and all forms of violence irrespective of the perpetrators". Violence and harming innocent people is alien to Islamic religion, laws and teachings.
World Alliance of Religions for Peace: Resolving to Work Together and Establishing Everlasting Peace
September 17-19, 2014
With an opening ceremony akin to that of the Olympic Games, the World Alliance of Religions for Peace Summit which took place on September 17-19, 20014 in Seoul, South Korea brought together about 200,000 people from more than 2,000 international political, religious, civil and traditional society leaders to participate in the signing ceremony of the Unity of Religions agreement which calls for the cessation of all wars and vowing to work together to establish world peace.
Oussama Jammal, USCMO Secretary General, was invited to the World Alliance of Religions Peace Summit 2014 (WARP Summit) where the ceremony took place as part of the International VIP delegations where ways for cooperation and propagating the message of peace were discussed. The Summit was hosted by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, and Restoration of Light (HWPL) and was attended by political leaders—including former and current heads of state, first ladies, prime ministers and ministers from 30 countries—religious leaders, members of interfaith and peace organizations, and reporters from all across the world.
"The Summit was truly a festival of peace and hope for the future. It was outstanding" said Oussama Jammal, secretary general of USCMO "People of power and influence have to promote every effort that can establish peace and harmony among people. This is what the Quran mandate us to do."
The WARP Summit commenced with the Festival of Lights on September 17, with a spectacular opening ceremony, but it was September 18 that saw major activity when the summit delegations convened to sign the Unity of Religions agreement.
The Summit concluded with a Peace Walk which took place at the Peace Square of Seoul Gate which was also attended by the about 200,000 attendees of the summit.
Witnessing Turkish Democracy in Action
August 27, 2014
The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) was invited to attend a conference by the Turkish Development and Justice Party (AK Party). The USCMO delegation also attended elections of new chairman and was able to witness Turkish democracy at work. The conference, considered to be an extraordinary event by members of the AK Party, was held in honor of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, its founder and chairman, to bid him a special farewell after being elected President of Turkey. Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu was elected the new chairman of the AK Party. Witnessing this fascinating democratic process was as uplifting and inspiring as feeling the shared sentiment among party members. The US Council of Muslim Organizations was represented by Oussama Jammal, Secretary General; Naeem Baig, ICNA president, and Osama Abu-Irshaid, AMP National Director.
USCMO, State Department Discuss Situation in Gaza
August 15, 2014
The US Council of Muslim Organizations met with leading officials from the State Department to discuss the situation in Gaza and the efforts of the U.S. Government to secure a cease-fire and defuse the crisis. The meeting was informative for all participating parties.
The USCMO delegations consisted of the Secretary General Oussama Jammal; Nihad Awad of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); Naeem Baig of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA); Osama Abu Irshad of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP); Imam Talib Shareef of The Mosque Cares-Ministry of Imam W. D. Mohammed; and Abed Ayoub of United Muslim Relief (UMR).
USCMO Leadership Meet With DHS Officials
August 5, 2014
A delegation of leaders from the US Council of Muslim Organizations met with officials from the Department of Homeland Security to discuss issues of concern to the American Muslim community. Of the many topics covered were civil rights and countering violent extremism. The delegations also discussed future cooperation between the Council members and DHS with a focus on increasing engagements on a local level.
The delegation from USCMO included Secretary General Oussama Jammal; Nihad Awad and Robert McCaw of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); Naeem Baig and Rameez Abed of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA); Osama Abu Irshaid of the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and Imam Talib Shareef of The Mosque Cares-Ministry of Imam W.D. Mohammed.
The divisions that attended this meeting included the Civil Rights and Civil Liberty (CRCL); Countering Violent Extremism (CVE); Counterterrorism; TSA; the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the Faith-based Security and Communications Advisory Subcommittee (FBAC).
USCMO Celebrates Formation With Jubilant Inauguration
June 10, 2014
The US Council of Muslim Organizations held its inaugural banquet at the Hilton Hotel Crystal City, VA on June 10, 2014. The event was attended by a large crowd of community leaders, imams, civic and interfaith partners, dignitaries, elected and government officials.
Among the guests were Congressman Kieth Ellison (Minnesota), Congressman Andre Carson (Indiana), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Rich Schmierer, and Judge Hassan El-Amin (MD).
Announcing the Formation of the US Council of Muslim Organizations
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/12/14) – Eight* major national American Muslim organizations held a news conference today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to announce the formation of the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group that will serve as a representative voice for Muslims as that faith community seeks to enhance its positive impact on society.
The new national council's first priority will be to build on Muslim citizenship rights by conducting a census of American Muslims to create a database that will be used to enhance civic and political participation in upcoming elections. Other priorities were also considered by the new Council to empower the American Muslim community, amplify its voice, and unify its efforts.
* The founding members of the US Council of Muslim Organizations are:
Muslim American Society (MAS), Islamic Circle of North American (ICNA), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), The Mosque Cares (Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), and Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA).
Other organizations immediately joined the US Council include:
American Muslim Alliance (AMA) and The Mosque Foundation (Chicago)