OKCNP Partners with CAIR-OK and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum on Discussion of Islamophobia and the Work of Nonprofits

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits will present a workshop and discussion on Islamophobia and the work of nonprofits in partnership with the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum on June 22 at the Museum. The discussion will be led by Adam Soltani, the executive director of the CAIR Oklahoma, and it will focus on issues Muslims face and how nonprofit organizations, civic and faith leaders can address Islamophobia in their work and the community.

Daniel Billingsley, Vice President of External Affairs at the Center, believes the topic is especially timely given recent events and media attention.

“We began talking with CAIR earlier this year about presenting a workshop on Islamophobia,” Billingsley says. “We have had it on our schedule for several weeks. However, events in Orlando and France in recent days have made this especially important as we sort out the community’s response and how that will play into how Muslims are viewed and treated.”

Billingsley notes that the Orlando shooting at an LGBT nightclub has increased Islamophobic chatter in the media, particularly social media where hate speech is rampant.

“What is heartening is the outpouring of support from so many sources in disparate communities. Even in Oklahoma, we saw LGBT, Muslim, civic and other faith leaders stand together to call for an end to hate. As usual, nonprofits stepped up to engage in dialogue and provide a space for healing,” Billingsley notes. “However, backlash against the Muslim community has been palpable, particularly in social media and some political pundit communication. It has exposed an unbelievable level of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding leads to fear, leading to phobia, leading to hate that eventually leads to violence.”

Kari Watkins, Executive Director, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum added, “one of the many things we realized from the Oklahoma City bombing is violence and hate are never the answer. As people respond to the tragic events in Orlando, we hope this workshop encourages everyone to realize the impact that hate speech has in our community, at our workplaces and in our daily lives.”

The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits hopes that the workshop will help nonprofit, faith, civic and other leaders engage in a dialogue to understand the disastrous effects of hate speech and Islamophobia. Billingsley also noted that issues around homophobia and hate speech affecting other marginalized groups will also be addressed.

“The Orlando shooting has opened old doors when it comes to Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry and hate speech. America needs to shut those doors permanently. We hope this will be just the beginning of crucial conversations around hate speech, bigotry and prejudice.”

Impact of Islamophobia in the Work of Nonprofits will be held at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum on June 22 at 11:30 a.m. The Oklahoma City workshop will also be live streamed on the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum’s Facebook page. The Center and CAIR will also hold the workshop in Tulsa on June 29. Visit okcnp.org for more information about this free event and to register.

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After the tragic events of last weekend’s mass shooting in Orlando, several Oklahoma nonprofits rallied together within hours to issue statements about the 49 lives lost. Living up to the unique Oklahoma Standard and in the face of horrific loss and tragedy, representatives from nonprofit organizations serving the LGBT community and the Islamic community along with other faith and civic leaders in Oklahoma stood side by side to offer condolences, support and dismay at the unfathomable situation. Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits member organizations organized powerful vigils on Sunday evening to honor those lost and to reiterate calls for peace and tolerance. Inevitably, it will open a continued dialogue, and many nonprofits should be prepared to engage in candid, open and thoughtful discussion to prevent backlash, hate speech or continued violence.

Whether we realize it or not, the rising tide of Islamophobia and hate rhetoric in our society impacts each and every one of us. American Muslims live in constant fear of being victims of hate crimes, subject to discrimination at work, having their religious centers vandalized, or even worse in fear of their own lives. Dealing with the fear of the unknown or different can be difficult or uncomfortable to explore, but once we understand the root of our fears and the impact it has on our fellow human beings, the better we can move beyond them.

The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and CAIR Oklahoma invites you to join an enlightening workshop designed to help each of us recognize and understand the spread of Islamophobia and Hate Rhetoric on our state and country, understand the impact this has on our work, and provide the resources to look for solutions to a problem plaguing a vibrant minority group in Oklahoma.

The goal of this workshop is not to proselytize or open a discussion on religious viewpoints, but rather to allow you to become more aware of Islamophobia and Hate Rhetoric in our society, help you identify and understand the effect this has on individuals and families you work with, and provide you with the resources to better understand and assist Muslims in Oklahoma.

Impact of Islamophobia in the Work of Nonprofits
Presented by the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits in partnership with CAIR-OK: Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

Adam Soltani, Executive Director, CAIR-OK; Veronica Laizure, Civil Rights Director, CAIR-OK
June 22, 2016 | 11:30am – 1:00pm | The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
This is a brown bag event. Feel free to bring your lunch.

The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits views this as a first of many discussions about these incredibly important and necessary issues around social justice and how nonprofits can incorporate better cultural competency in their activities. We hope that you will join us for this and future free discussions. Together, we can all live up to the Oklahoma Standard, and build the best communities thanks to nonprofits standing in unity for better lives for all Oklahomans.

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