2nd Annual National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

USCMO 2016 National Muslim Advocacy Day - Group picture on  Capitol Hill

 

 

 

The Event

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 took place. 

The Issues 

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. 

Conclusions

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. 

Challenges

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.