Lockyer to address community forum
in defense of Muslim and Sikh minorities
FREMONT: On Thursday, March 10, 2005, beginning at 7 pm at Irvington High School, California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer will give the keynote address at a community forum organized in defense of Muslim and Sikh minorities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq.
Titled “Our Community: Who Belongs?”, the forum will nurture solidarity against all hateful speech and acts, and in particular against those directed against Muslims and Sikhs in the Tri-City community.
In his address, Attorney General Lockyer will summarize the events that have engendered such fear, the strategies he and other law enforcement officials are employing to combat them, and above all, the steps local citizens can take to create a safe and welcoming community for all.
Lockyer has long been outspoken on the issues of hate crimes, having written in 1991 the first felony hate crime law in the nation. More recently, he opened the Office of Immigrant Assistance, created a Civil Rights Unit, and established Rapid Response Protocols for hate crimes.
Nonetheless, after 9/ll and with the on-going wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Muslim and Sikh Americans continue to be afraid. In an interview published in May, 2004, Dr. Mohamad Rajabally, President of the Islamic Society of the East Bay, brought to light the fear many local Muslims and Sikhs experience daily, a fear so great they dare not even speak publicly about it.
“I knew then the rest of us would have to step forward and be counted,” explained Herman Rosenbaum, the chairman of the ad hoc committee organizing the forum, and who serves as a volunteer with the Jewish Community Relations Council of the East Bay. “These are our neighbors, our friends, members of our community. We cannot stand by while they suffer.”
Joining Rosenbaum on the committee are more than a dozen representatives from diverse religious, cultural, civil rights and community groups; and the forum has received enthusiastic endorsements from more than twenty such local organizations, including the human relations commissions and the schools in the Tri-City Area.
Nina Moore, who serves on the Board of Education of the Fremont Unified School District, has joined the ad hoc committee. She explained their goal: “We’re working to ensure that all people here in the Tri-Cities feel they belong, and recognize that everyone else does too, no matter what their religion, country of origin or dress. This forum will be a powerful expression of our resolve and commitment.”
“I am proud to be a Muslim American,” stated Samina Faheem Sundas, Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice, who joined Rosenbaum in planning the forum. “I am here because this is my country and will do everything in my power to make it a peaceful and harmonious one. We are all human beings with so much more in common than we realize.”
“Our Community: Who Belongs?” will begin at 7 pm on Thursday, March 10th, in Irvington High School’s Valhalla Hall, 41800 Blacow Road, in Fremont. Admission is free, and all are welcome.