A delegation of 8 young leaders from Denmark visited with CAIR-Chicago’s staff and externs on June 27th at CAIR-Chicago’s downtown office.
The delegation came to Chicago through the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). The program is administered by the Meridian International Center in DC and seeks to introduce participants to American community organizations that effectively address local social and educational issues. The program also seeks to establish long-term ties between Danish and American community activists to facilitate an on-going dialogue on grassroots activism, cultural pluralism, and political engagement.
The exchange brought forth a lot of interesting issues as well as striking parallels and juxtapositions between the problems facing Muslim communities in both the US and Denmark. The diversity of the Muslim communities in the US and Denmark, specifically, as well as the diversity of the Muslim world, generally, were examined leaving a room of Danish and American Muslims quite perplexed at the overwhelming generalizations found in today’s media; generalizations falsely representing the views of 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide, as one. Naturally, the Danish Cartoons Controversy and the reactions of Danish Muslims were also discussed, bringing forth diverse perspectives.
“It is important for western Muslim communities in the United States and Europe to share their experiences and learn from each other”, said Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator at CAIR-Chicago, “that is why these exchanges are so meaningful”.
CAIR-Chicago would like to thank Ms. Marian Reich, Assistant Director at the International Visitors Center of Chicago (IVCC), for helping coordinate this exchange. Marian echoed the sentiments of the delegation in her email to Dina Rehab minutes after the visit, stating: “we already received glowing feedback from the visitors”. The delegation coined the meeting: “a defining and most inspiring factor of their trip”.
CAIR-Chicago plans to meet with other international delegations this year, including a delegation from Kyrgyzstan and India. CAIR-Chicago met with a delegation from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in Southern Philippines on June 8th.
Present in the meeting were all members of the CAIR-Chicago staff, externs Sarah Terman and Azam Khan, as well as the following guests from Denmark:
Ms. Susan Arac
Member, Aarhus City Council
Ms. Viyan Duman
Vice Chairman, Center for Public Administration Policy, Ministry of Finance
Ms. Bircan Eker
Consultant, Danish Ministry of Employment
Mr. Nadeem Farooq
Member, Hoje Taastrp City Council
Mr. Martin Frandsen
Co-Manager, Urban Task Force Project, Copenhagen
Ms. Jamilla Jaffer
Deputy Chairman and Founding Member, Democratic Muslims
Mr. Murat Kilic
Project Manager, Urban Program, ‘Do What You Do Best’
Mr. Ahmed Lüfti Oezer
Chairman, FC Toros 95 Youth Club
Mr. Bassam el-Daoud
Director, Bishpehaven Youth Club
Also present were:
Ms. Cynthia Wilson and Mr. Bruno Blumenfeld representing the State Department
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