Muslim Advocates Accomplishments – 2008
Since its founding in 2005, Muslim Advocates has quickly established a strong local and national reputation and networks with key stakeholders, including lawyers, community and mosque leaders, government officials, the media, and allies in the national security human rights field. In 2008, we continued to grow, hiring key staff and formally launching key programmatic activities. The following are some highlights from 2008:
- Muslim Advocates launched its educational video, Got Rights? Protecting Yourself and Your Family At Home and the Airport, online and on DVD in five languages: English, Arabic, Farsi, Somali and Urdu. The video has been viewed by thousands of people across the country online, in mosques, and at conferences and other community gatherings.
- In June 2008, Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution at a hearing on CBP searches of laptops and other electronic devices and invasive questioning at the border. This testimony was an example of the unique role of Muslim Advocates as a bridge between the American Muslim community and policymaking at the federal level: we took experiences reported to us by the American Muslim community and translated them into a collection of stories to demonstrate to lawmakers the real, human impact of national security policies on law-abiding Americans.
- The issues raised by Muslim Advocates at the hearing received extensive national and international press coverage, including The New York Times, HuffingtonPost.com, Los Angeles Times, and International Herald Tribune. Soon after the hearing, the editorial page of The New York Times endorsed the call made by Muslim Advocates for Congress to intervene. Later that fall, Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation to limit CBP’s powers at the border and to restore constitutional rights and protections, largely tracking the policy reform recommended by Muslim Advocates.
- To help strengthen charitable, nonprofit entities, Muslim Advocates launched the Muslim Charities Accreditation Program (MCAP). This program is a unique initiative with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (BBB-WGA), a trusted household name that evaluates charities and sets forth nonprofit best practices. As part of this initiative, Muslim Advocates educates nonprofit leaders about the Standards for Charity Accountability and assists them with BBB-WGA evaluation. The launch of this program received significant positive press, including coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Philanthropy, and National Public Radio, as well as praise from theU.S. Department of Treasury. The program has already received widespread support and attention with over 70 nonprofit leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area attending our first educational seminar in the fall 2008.
- Finally, given the election year and the high level of voter participation and activity, Alliance for Justice collaborated with Muslim Advocates to co-author a legal advisory on election year do’s and don’ts for mosques and 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities. This advisory was distributed nationally to mosques, Imams and Muslim community leaders and profiled in the summer issue of Islamic Horizons, a magazine reaching the Muslim community with a circulation of 60,000 subscribers nationwide.