— Muslim Alliance of Indiana

Letter From MAI President

It has been a very eventful year thus far for the Muslims in the US, including Indiana. While the Muslim community keeps growing organically on Hoosier soil, events overseas continued to drive the image of Muslim and Islam in Indiana’s influential media outlets.

The year 2015 had hardly begun when the attacks on Charlie Hebdo followed other terrorism events in Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Middle East. MAI and 14 other organizations around Indianapolis organized a public rally against terrorism and in support of sanctity of life, freedom of expression, universal education, and religious liberty. Despite the cold January weather at the outdoor IUPUI ‘Democracy Plaza’, about 200 people attended the rally and heard 16 speakers from diverse faith and ethnic backgrounds speak forcefully on their belief that Islam stood for peace and justice, and that American Muslims should not be collectively blamed for the actions of a few individuals and overseas groups. Sadly, less than a month later, three remarkable young Muslims were gunned down in North Carolina in a plausibly bias-motivated attack. MAI helped organize vigils around Indiana to remember the innocent victims of Islamophobia.

The observance of MLK day in January provided an opportunity for Muslim organizations to put in a day of service and connect with neighbors. MSA groups at IUPUI and other colleges around the state worked with their friends of all faiths, while MAI worked with Masjid Mumineen in central Indianapolis to recruit volunteers from other mosques and serve its neighborhood.

A major event for MAI was the 2nd annual Muslim Day at the Indiana Statehouse on April 9. House-full attendance was around 45, including about high-school and college students, teachers, and others. They were addressed by state leaders, and the highlight was an engaging panel on the recent Indiana RFRA law. This was an important step forward for MAI, making clear that Muslims want to seriously and consistently engage the government. An important follow-on event was a meeting with Representative Greg Porter to support his legislation on bias-crime penalties. MAI has teamed with ISNA and local Jewish and other faith and ethnic communities to push for Indiana to join over 40 other states that have hate-crimes laws.

I want also to recall that at the MAI annual convention and awards banquet in late 2014, we recognized 4 individuals and 4 organizations that have contributed greatly to Muslim life, culture, and charities in Indiana. That day, CIMO also ran a workshop on reintegration of former prison inmates into society, and we remembered the loss of fellow Hoosier Muslim, Abdelrahman Peter Kassig.

These events have kept our lean staff very busy. Coming up, MAI will conduct a series of workshops this summer at eight cities statewide on cultural sensitivity training. Professionals in social work, law enforcement, and other fields will learn how to better service victims of domestic violence and other crimes, immigrants, and people of all faiths.

This newsletter and the linked blogs on MAI’s website provides details on all of these activities and more. I urge you to explore the links and connect with the Muslim Alliance of Indiana in upcoming months and to come to your MAI events.