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An End of the Year Note from CAIR-Georgia

An End of the Year Note from CAIR-Georgia

Assalamoalaikum dear community members, 

As 2023 draws to a close, I wanted to reach out to you personally to reflect on this year, share in our communal grief, and gain strength from the collective strides we made despite the obstacles we face as an ummah. At CAIR-Georgia, we are no strangers to the feeling of facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. Yet year after year, we continue to put our faith in Allah SWT and persevere. 

Our hearts and minds are undoubtedly with our brothers and sisters in Gaza. The incomprehensible loss of life and destruction in Palestine hurts all of us. For some families in Georgia, the losses are even more immediate and personal. We pray for all our brothers and sisters with family in Palestine and recommit ourselves to strengthening the ummah to fight for all Palestinians and Muslims across the globe. 

Please indulge me as I walk you through some of CAIR-Georgia’s most critical work of 2023 – work that is fueled by all of you. I want you to know exactly what CAIR-Georgia did with your moral and financial support this year. 

And if you are inclined, you can support our ongoing work here: 

In 2023, we stood firm for our freedoms.

For our team, 2023 began and ends with a deep commitment to our civil rights, particularly our freedom of speech. Our most important work this year pertained to protecting minorities, to speaking out for Palestine, and confronting the state of Israel. 

In the 2023 legislative session, our team worked with a coalition and defeated HB 30, a bill that conflated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and curbed free speech. We also beat SB 132, an anti-immigrant bill that would have banned people from specific and targeted countries from owning agricultural land in Georgia, such as Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. We continued our streak of our defeating all anti-immigrant bills introduced in Georgia since 2016, alhamdulillah. 

We empowered our community to speak up. 

We galvanized our community to send thousands of emails to elected officials and facilitated dozens of meetings between elected officials and Muslim constituents. Through this advocacy, we pressed elected officials to vote on bills that reflect our values and needs as American Muslims. We hosted hundreds of Muslims on Muslim Advocacy Day at the Capitol alongside GAMVP and IMAN Atlanta. We called on and continue to demand that our elected officials effect a permanent and just ceasefire in Gaza and the West Bank. 

We held over 50 civil rights trainings for hundreds of American Muslims. In the last 12 weeks alone, we offered 30 Know Your Rights for Palestine advocacy and media trainings across the state of Georgia, empowering American Muslims to speak for Palestine safely and effectively. 

We are a strategic part of the Atlanta Multifaith Coalition for Palestine, a broad coalition of over 50 faith leaders aligned to demand an end to the occupation of Palestine. Since October 7, this robust coalition has organized several mass actions, protests, teaching events, press conferences, meetings with senators, and awareness campaigns. Our work with this coalition connects Palestinian voices and experts with the greater Georgia community to amplify their message. CAIR-Georgia is playing a critical role to ensure that allies are fully equipped to support Palestine. 

We strengthened our community to be unapologetically Muslim.

Our legal team handled a 1200% increase in anti-Muslim incidents in the wake of October 7 and helped community members with complex issues as they navigated anti-Muslim sentiments at schools, colleges, workplaces, and in public spaces. We wrote dozens of advocacy letters to administrators and employers to hold them accountable for their biases and provide them with Palestine-related educational materials. We provided legal advice to community members facing unprecedented challenges to their freedom of speech.  We supported dozens of community members with their public comments in school board, city council, and county commission meetings.

We secured asylum for multiple families this year, ensuring not just their safety but their full participation in American society. Our legal advocacy and litigation efforts secured life-changing monetary settlements for clients,a change in uniform policy at a police department in the Atlanta Metro area,and provision of halal food, prayer mats, and hijabs for incarcerated Muslims. 

To preserve Muslim heritage in Georgia, we worked with the Hogg Hummock community on Sapelo Island and drew attention to the dispossession of land faced by the Gullah Geechee descendants of enslaved Bilali Muhammad, one of the first known Muslims in North America and the author of the first Islamic scholarly document in America. We organized a historic first meeting between a group of legislators and the Hogg Hummock community as part of our Sapelo Island advocacy. We will continue to partner with organizers on Sapelo Island and the SPLC to ensure that this important history for Georgians and Muslims is not erased. 

In 2024, American Muslims face critical challenges.

In the coming months, we anticipate censorship, suppression, and surveillance of American Muslims to increase. Accordingly, we are getting ready to confront related civil rights infringements in the legal sphere.  

We know that a concerted effort to curb criticism of Israel is afoot and are preparing to challenge it in the Georgia legislature along with a coalition of allies.  

We are aware that Muslim students are under attack at schools and universities and need extra protection and guidance to continue their advocacy and to assert their religious freedoms. We are assembling a staff and volunteer team to empower our youth. 

2024 is an election year and the Muslim vote is incredibly valuable. We will redouble our civic engagement and community education to maximize the impact of the Muslim vote. 

To do all this and more, we need your support – now more than ever.

Despite a historic amount of donations at our October 2023 fundraiser, we continue to face a budget shortfall at CAIR-Georgia.

Help us build a team that can rise to the challenge of 2024 and beyond: 

No matter the challenge, we vow to do our best with the trust and amana of our community’s support, in sha Allah. We will continue to serve the needs of Georgia Muslims to the best of our ability. As always, please remember CAIR-Georgia in your prayers. Jazakallah khair for reading and supporting.

With gratitude,

Azka Mahmood
Executive Director