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American Muslim

Muslim Community Focus Group
 the VOICES Project meets

By Rabea Chaudhry

A meeting of the Muslim Community Focus Group of the VOICES  Project Project (Voting & Organizing in Immigrant communities through Education & Support)was held on February 14, 2005  at the CAIR office in Santa Clara.

The meeting was attended by Dr. Waheed Siddiqee, Ms. Aneela Hader, Ms. Amina Ansari,  Ms. Rabea Chaudhry and Mr. and Mrs. Zafar Mosen.  Samina Fahim Sundas, Executive Director of American Muslim Voice was facilitator of the meeting.

There were many challenges that were brought up during the discussion. The environment of fear and suspicion that has resulted due to laws like the Patriot Act and Secret Evidence Act and government biased policies were unanimously recognized as something that genuinely affected the psychology of the immigrant community within the Bay Area.  

As Ms. Samina Faheem Sundas put it, “…the Patriot Act, this is one thing that I keep reminding people about. Because a lot of the Congressmen think that the Patriot Act hasn’t affected anybody. I just go and tell them that if it has created a culture of fear, frustration, anxiety, it has done its job. For a Muslim it is an invisible sword that is always hanging. What else do you need? It has been the most effective tool. So, you’re absolutely right. That has affected our community tremendously.”

The group agreed that Secret Evidence law needed to be abolished, as it is, essentially, wholly un-American in spirit.  Provide every suspected criminal with due process and maintain their right to be innocent until proven guilty, the group demanded.

The VOICES  is a new federal immigration reform initiative that aims to support the civic participation of immigrants through the creation of a network of immigrant communities in Santa Clara County.

Only the following six communities are chosen for this project: Iranian, Latino, Korean, Muslims/Pakistanis, Vietnamese, Western Africans, West African refugees.

The VOICES project was created to support the civic participation of underserved immigrant communities in Santa Clara County. 

While making up the majority of the County’s total population, immigrants have been battling to have more influence on federal policies and issues that affect them.

In the past 10 years and especially since 9-11, immigrant communities have fought for policies that expand legalization and refugee admissions, defend civil rights and civil liberties, promote family reunification, and protect rights at work.

The goal of the VOICES project is to unite those voices and create a network of immigrant communities in Santa Clara County to hold legislators accountable and advocate for better federal polices for all. Together, we are stronger and our voices louder.

Click here to read Full report of the meeting.