Respected Civil Rights Leader to Champion Tireless, Creative Legal Support for Social Movements and Targeted Communities
Washington, DC — At a moment where democratic norms, established individual rights and fundamental safety are in peril for so many, Muslim Advocates today named Omar Farah as its next Executive Director. A visionary social justice attorney who built up the Center for Constitutional Rights’ legal capacity in the American south and fought the various, ongoing manifestations of the post-9/11 human rights crisis, Farah will officially take the reins of Muslim Advocates on September 26, 2022. Farah takes a rigorously coalitional, movement-led approach to accomplishing social change. Under his leadership, Muslim Advocates will continue to bring sharp legal analysis to the most urgent challenges of the day, while heavily investing in expanding the organization’s partnerships and intersectional approach to defending the rights of diverse Muslim communities and all targeted peoples.
Omar Farah comes to Muslim Advocates from the Center for Constitutional Rights. As the associate director of strategic initiatives at CCR, Omar Farah has been dedicated to rebuilding the organization’s Southern Regional Office—an initiative designed to strengthen legal and advocacy support for southern movements fighting against entrenched white supremacy and its connection to environmental, economic and gender injustice. In his litigation capacity, Farah worked on CCR’s historic stop-and-frisk monitorship, partnered with Muslim Advocates to win a landmark settlement that ended an unconstitutional NYPD surveillance program targeting Muslims in New Jersey and represented several of the Muslim men detained at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp—among a range of other CCR cases confronting abusive state power. Farah brings years of institutional capacity-building, litigation and advocacy experience to his new role. He also brings hard-earned trust from his many years working closely with community partners, organizers, activists and national civil rights groups.
At Muslim Advocates, Farah will succeed Farah Brelvi and Asifa Quraishi-Landes, who helped found the organization and have been serving as interim co-executive directors of the organization for the past year. Under their stewardship, Muslim Advocates helped expose anti-Muslim and anti-Black police violence in Phoenix, AZ; won a victory for Muslim Ban victims wrongfully denied visas; worked closely with the White House, Congress and the broader civil rights community to advance Muslim civil rights leaders in government and rallied Muslim communities to bravely speak out on the leading civil rights challenges of our time—among many other victories.
“Muslim Advocates must defend against injustice, while leveraging its skillful advocacy, institutional reach and uncompromising integrity to catalyze the change that Muslim communities demand. That mission makes Muslim Advocates an indispensable part of a broad, intersectional and courageous fight that is underway to guarantee all of our rights and safety,” said Omar Farah. “My job is to ensure that Muslim Advocates is always there when our communities call on us, that we engage with humility and that we bring rigor, creativity and dedication to the challenges ahead. We need to get this right. In my experience, you do that by following the wisdom of frontline communities who are closest to the challenges of the day and therefore best able to identify solutions. Implementing those visionary solutions is not just our institutional obligation, it is an honor and where we find joy and renewal in the struggle for justice.”
“Today, American Muslims are speaking out and serving in public life like never before while also fighting against historic injustices and new threats to all our rights,” said Saema Somalya, chair of the Muslim Advocates board. “Omar Farah brings the exact mix of experience, brilliance, passion and humility needed to lead Muslim Advocates at this crucial time. I’m so excited that I get to work alongside him and the Muslim Advocates staff to write this next chapter for the organization.”
Muslim Advocates was founded in 2005 by a group of American Muslim legal experts in the aftermath of the passage of the Patriot Act. The group has risen to become a leading advocate for all American Muslims and all marginalized people by working on the ground in communities, in courts and in the halls of power to fight bigotry and defend civil rights.
“Omar Farah is an inspired choice to lead Muslim Advocates. He is an intrepid civil rights leader, who has been at the forefront of critical litigation and advocacy to protect our right to be free from abusive government surveillance, abusive policing practices, and who has advocated for and advanced civil and human rights throughout his impressive career,” said Maya Wiley, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Muslim Advocates has been a key member of our coalition, playing a critical role in our collective efforts to fight hate and bias. I am excited to work with Omar, whose passion, expertise and dedication will help us achieve an America as good as its ideals.”
“Muslim Advocates has long been a valued ally in the fight for justice. I welcome the new Executive Director, Omar Farah. He has experience litigating some of the biggest civil rights challenges of our time. His commitment to working with directly impacted communities makes him qualified to lead this necessary organization,” said Rep. André Carson (D-IN). “I look forward to working with Omar and the Muslim Advocates team in communities and the halls of Congress as we fight for a more just world for American Muslims and all people.”
“Omar Farah fought against injustice when he and Muslim Advocates helped end an unconstitutional NYPD surveillance program that targeted American Muslims, including ones that have long lived in my district,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY). “As the new head of Muslim Advocates, I know he will fight with the same passion and get the same kinds of results on behalf of targeted communities across the nation.”
“I have spent my life working to amplify the voices of people of faith and goodwill to foster understanding and protect religious pluralism in our nation. Throughout his years as a civil rights attorney and activist, Omar Farah has similarly prioritized the need to listen as an advocate dedicated to combating injustice” said Ambereen Khan, host and executive producer of Interfaith Voices. “As someone who has supported Muslim Advocates from the beginning, I am thrilled the organization will be led by an emerging leader who prioritizes working alongside targeted communities of all faiths and creeds to fight injustice.”
“Famed civil rights lawyer Arthur Kinoy is quoted as saying, ‘when fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in an American flag.’ Those prescient words describe the moment we are facing, which calls for new, energetic organizational leaders like Omar Farah who have the courage to move forward a clear vision of justice through the divided issues of the day,” said Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “I’ve worked with Omar Farah for more than a decade and I can say with great confidence that one cannot find a leader with more integrity, better judgment and deeper commitment to justice. Congratulations to Muslim Advocates as it charts and renews its vision under Omar’s leadership.”
“From one Executive Director to another, I welcome Omar Farah to his new role at this critical juncture in our collective struggle for civil rights and civil liberties,” said Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “We at the ACLU look forward to continuing our vital work with Muslim Advocates—now with Omar at the helm. I know he will lead with values and integrity in service of the many communities Muslim Advocates represents.”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.