LOS ANGELES – Recognizing Muslim American community’s contributions and rich heritage, Los Angeles city council has declared July 2014 as Muslim American Heritage Month, a decision widely welcomed by the Muslim community.
“It’s a very important resolution. It’s historic,” Najee Ali, the project’s founder, told KCET on Friday, June 20.
“It will help bring Los Angeles Muslims closer to the mainstream and civic life and affairs of our city where we will have a chance every year to highlight the various cultural traditions of the Muslim community.”
“We can share understanding for many of our fellow Angelenos who know very little of the Muslim community, except for what they see on TV and the media, which is mostly negative,” he added.
The city council’s resolution to recognize July 2014 as Muslim American heritage month was adopted during a meeting last Wednesday.
It followed months of cooperation between the city council and Project Islamic Hope, an LA-based civil rights activist group, to produce an initial draft with the resolution.
“Residents from my community approached me to commemorate the Muslim community and culture, and I felt it was only appropriate to celebrate this culture as we do dozens of others in our city,” Council member Curren D. Price, who introduced the resolution, said.
“Our city’s diversity, and our acceptance and tolerance of our different beliefs, is part of what makes our city great.”
The decision makes Los Angeles as the second American city to recognize a Muslim Heritage month, following Washington DC.
The resolution notes that the celebration “will promote and encourage awareness of the significant contributions made by the city’s Muslim population in culture, social services, education, politics, business, technology, and the arts.”
LA City Council’s decision was welcomed by America’s largest Muslim civil rights advocacy group which praised the resolution as a celebration of diversity.
“We hope that this resolution will serve to expand the bridge between the Muslims of Los Angeles and the larger community by providing an opportunity to learn of the numerous contributions that Muslim Angelenos have made to this great city in the past, as well the impact of their current efforts,” said Yasmin Nouh, LA’s communications coordinator of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The city council’s adoption of this resolution has also sparked an example for other institutions to potentially adopt similar resolutions, Nouh added.
“In our current political sphere, it has unfortunately become acceptable to attack one’s political opponent on the basis of their relations with the Muslim community or incite fear of Muslims to garner support.
“In passing the resolution, the LA City Council has implicitly made a statement rejecting such fear tactics, and set an example for all public officials and institutions to aspire to,” she added.
California currently has the largest Muslim community in the US, with a majority residing in Southern California, according to USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture.
The state is also home to the largest number of mosques in the US.