Asalaam alaikum, esteemed friends and supporters!
I hope this message finds each one of you in high spirits. I have bittersweet news to share with you today.
After seven impactful years serving the Georgia Muslim community, including the last two and a half as Executive Director of CAIR Georgia, I am now embarking on a new journey as the Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta.
While I am excited for this new chapter, I am sad to bid farewell to the CAIR network, which has been an integral part of my life. Through the entirety of my professional career thus far, I have had the distinct privilege of serving the Georgia Muslim community, starting as an intern and legal advocate in 2016, then officially joining as CAIR Georgia’s first-ever staff attorney and lobbyist in 2017, taking on the role of Legal and Policy Director in 2020, before leading as Executive Director over the past two and a half years.
Together, we have witnessed the remarkable growth of our organization, from a small team of three to the robust and influential force we have become today – all thanks to your unwavering support. In these transformative seven years, we have expanded our scope, providing not only direct legal services to those Muslims impacted by religious discrimination but also venturing into limited scope immigration, launching a vital civic engagement program, conducting extensive state-wide listening and civil rights tours, and empowering hundreds of Muslims across the state through Know Your Rights and advocacy trainings.
Even in the face of daunting challenges, such as bigotry, Islamophobia, and the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, our community and organization have stood strong, lighting the path forward with your generous backing.
Today, CAIR Georgia’s voice resonates not only within the Georgia civil rights ecosystem but also in the national dialogue, all because of your dedicated support and the hard work of our exceptional CAIR Georgia staff.
When I first joined CAIR Georgia, our community was under assault from an administration rife with race-baiting, xenophobia, and religious bigotry. We grappled with the harsh reality of an explicit Muslim ban, which targeted individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries. The ensuing flames of hate led to a historic surge in religiously motivated hate incidents against Muslims.
Through your support, CAIR Georgia emerged as a staunch force of resistance in Georgia. Our legal team, backed by your unwavering commitment, fielded over a thousand calls, addressed hundreds of requests for assistance, and represented numerous clients facing religious discrimination. Our advocacy team, in collaboration with the state’s largest immigrant rights coalition, successfully defeated every single piece of anti-immigrant legislation.
Furthermore, thanks to you, when our democracy was attacked in 2020, CAIR Georgia partnered with the Georgia Muslim Voter Project to launch our groundbreaking Civic Engagement program, resulting in record Muslim turnout – a momentum that continues to grow every year, Alhumdulilah.
Similarly, throughout my tenure as Executive Director, we have unreservedly channeled our efforts inward, devoting ourselves to the unsung heroes whose invaluable labor sustains our cause. Strengthening our operational infrastructure, providing our exceptional staff with improving compensation, and instituting systems that place the mental health and well-being of those at the frontline at the forefront of our mission, these foundational pieces remain some of my proudest contributions to CAIR Georgia.
Even as I transition from my role at CAIR Georgia, rest assured, that my commitment to the movement we have collectively forged here in Georgia remains unwavering.
We, in the Georgia Muslim community, are fortunate to have an incredible Deputy Director, Azka Mahmood, who will be stepping into the interim Executive Director role while the Board of Directors conducts their search for CAIR Georgia’s next Executive Director. I am excited to witness the future growth and triumph of our work under her fresh and inspired leadership.
Your support has been the bedrock of our success, and I extend my deepest gratitude to each one of you. As I embark on this new journey, please know that the Georgia Muslim community, our community, will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Thank you for being an integral part of our shared mission and for helping build our community to new heights of impact and influence. With your continued support, we shall overcome every challenge and continue making history.
Jazakallah khairan for all your support!
With warmest regards,
Murtaza Khwaja, Esq.
Council on American-Islamic Relations