Front Page Feature: “We Will Have None of It”

CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab Banquet Message Featured in 100+ International Media Outlets and 20+ Languages
Chicago (AFP) – In a sprawling banquet hall, Ahmed Rehab walked to a lectern facing a glittering group of diners and launched into a searing speech excoriating the Donald Trump administration. 
“This fight is not just our fight, it is America’s fight,” Rehab told the packed room of 1,200 attendees – mostly American Muslims at a fundraiser for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which Rehab heads. 
“As you look at those who are trying to ban good people from coming to this country,” Rehab continued, “people who’ve committed no crime whatsoever other than in their minds the crime of being Muslim… we will have none of it.”
The room broke into applause.
The president’s efforts to institute a ban on travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries have been met with a strong response from Muslim Americans and their supporters.
But there is also fear that Islamophobia is on the rise, and that the Trump administration may still target Muslims.
“My kids are all American citizens,” explained Fraheen Hashmi, a 36-year-old pharmacist with four young children. “It’s just scary to raise them in this environment,” she said, worried that they might grow up embarrassed of their heritage or afraid to identify as Muslim.
Advocacy groups have reported a sharp rise in hate crimes.
Anti-Muslim groups nearly tripled last year, according to an annual census by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And in 2015, hate crimes against Muslims increased 67 percent, according to the FBI.
But there has also been a rallying response from Muslim groups and supporters, as Muslim-Americans have felt more scrutiny and threats.
During his speech at the banquet hall, Rehab pointed to new allies in the room — non-Muslim lawyers who helped travelers during Trump’s ill-fated first attempt at a ban that triggered chaos at American airports until it was halted by US courts. 
“My friends, you are the best of America,” he said.
Other attendees echoed that optimism. 
“The negative could be turned into a positive, and I think that’s what we’re seeing now,” said Akif Ali, a 36-year-old born in Houston. “The best part is that the American public themselves have become very generous to us,” added Saqib Khan, a US-born lawyer of Pakistani descent.
CAIR-Chicago, Rehab’s group, has expanded its capacity in Chicago to take on hundreds of new volunteers, grown its network of schools, mosques and community centers and held know-your-rights training sessions. “These are definitely times that are rapidly mobilizing the Muslim community, or co-strugglers of color and allies,” said CAIR-Chicago spokeswoman Hoda Katebi.