Patrick B. McGuigan
A Christian minister and a Muslim youth advocate were presented special awards at the 2013 banquet of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, held at Oklahoma City's Marriott Hotel Northwest.
Receiving the building bridges award was the Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee, head of the Oklahoma Council of Churches. The faith in action youth leadership award went to Abdurrahman Kabani, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma active in several youth programs in support of the state's Muslim community.
Among state and community leaders attending the event were state Rep. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, state Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, and Oklahoma City Councilman, Dr. Edward Shadid.
Adam Soltani, executive director of CAIR Oklahoma, briefed the audience on recent activities for what he characterized as a civil rights and outreach group. A video presentation summarized recent work on behalf of Muslims in the state, including advocacy for an American military veteran from Oklahoma, Saadiq Long, who faced months of delay in efforts to visit his ailing mother abroad, and educational work”defending a Muslim woman prevented from entering a bank in northeast Oklahoma.
Ryan Kiesel of Oklahoma's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) described his group's successful effort
, in collaboration with CAIR, to challenge State Question 755, a ballot proposition passed by state voters that forbade the use of Islamic law
(Sharia) and other foreign precedents in state courts.
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik exhorted the crowd to support CAIR and to oppose House Bill 1060
, a measure that recently advanced from the Legislature to the desk of Gov. Mary Fallin. The measure restates opposition to use of foreign precedents in Oklahoma, without specifying particular provisions. Abdul-Malik touted the American tradition of religious tolerance, focusing on one theme of the event, Upholding Our Constitution: Defending Our Faith.
Abdul-Malik affirmed American constitutional provisions as congruent with the principles of Islam, particularly the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. He encouraged support for CAIR's work to oppose laws such as H.B. 1060 and to advocate for liberty.
Imam Dr. Imad Enchassi encouraged support for CAIR and touted the group's work.
The evening concluded with a time for prayer, and a performance by comedian Omar Regan.
Sponsors included OCC, Mayflower, the Islamic Council, Peace House, several Islamic Societys and a range of individuals. Malaka Elyazgi welcomed attendees and served as M.C. for the evening, which began with a recitation from the Quran by a student attending Mercy School in Oklahoma City.