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Culture & Society
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
A few days after September 11, 2001, when US president George W Bush wanted to condemn anti-Muslim acts following the terrorist attacks on the US, he choose Nihad Awad as one of the American Muslim leaders to stand next to him at a press conference in a Washington, DC mosque. Awad is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest non-profit Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation in the United States.
While the administration may have changed, Awad’s commitment to improving Muslim rights and relations in the US is as strong as ever. He has testified before both houses of the US Congress on matters involving Muslims in the US and CAIR’s actions have forced many large outlets to be more tolerant of Muslim culture. In February 2008, a manager was forced to apologise to a Muslim customer whose face veil was mocked by one of his cashiers and in July 2009 a large US retailer agreed to accommodate a Muslim employee’s right to pray in the workplace on scheduled breaks.
According to CAIR, its mission is to “enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”