A delegation of 13 government officials and community/non-governmental organization leaders from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in Southern Philippines visited with CAIR-Chicago staff on June 8th.
The delegation came to discuss issues facing the Muslim minority in the Philippines, as well as to learn how CAIR-Chicago, as a chapter of the leading Muslim civil rights organization in the US, has dealt with issues of discrimination facing the Muslim community in the past.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for both of us to learn more about each other” said Dina Rehab, CAIR-Chicago’s Outreach Coordinator. “I did not know that it is almost impossible for a Muslim woman wearing the hijab [Islamic head covering] in the Philippines to hail down a cab.”
The delegation and CAIR-Chicago discussed ways in which they could collaborate further. One proposal was institutionalizing a foreign exchange program between the two communities whereby each can learn more about the other through ground work. CAIR-Chicago also resolved to educate the general public on the various issues facing the Muslim minority in the Philippines, reiterating that ignorance is the enemy.
This meeting was facilitated by the International Training Office of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. CAIR-Chicago looks forward to working with the International Training Office on future initiatives. CAIR-Chicago plans to meet with other international delegations this year, including a delegation from the Denmark in June, and one from Kyrgyzstan in September.
Present in the meeting were all members of the CAIR-Chicago staff as well as the following guests:
Suharto Ambolodto (Lawyer; Director, Caucus on Muslim Mindanao Affairs)
Romeo Villanueva (Priest; Notre Dame of Jolo College and Peace Center)
Nazarollah Macalandong (University administrator; Chancellor, Mindanao State University, Maguindanao)
Rajam Akbar (Regional Assemblywoman/legislator, ARMM)
Fatima Kanakan (Government official; Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Office of the Regional Governor, ARMM)
Khanappi Ayao (NGO worker; Kadtabanga Foundation for Peace and Development Advocates, Inc.)
Baicon Cayongcat (NGO worker and university administrator; Convener, Mother for Peace Movement; Executive Assistant on Student Affairs, Office of the President, MSU-Marawi)
Abdullah Jr. Salik (Local government official; municipal vice mayor)
Abdulwahid Inju (Madaris Teacher; Provincial Mufti; Division Madaris Coordinator)
Jurma Tikmasan (Professor, MSU Tawi-Tawi; NGO worker and exec. Director, Tarbilang Foundation)
Fatmawati Salapuddin (NGO worker; Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum)
Bainon Karon (NGO worker; head, President, Federation of United Mindanawan Bangsamoro Women’s Cooperative)
Zainudin Malang (lawyer; Director, Bangsamoro Center for Law and Policy)
Lina Davide-Ong (Director of the International Training Office at Northern Illinois University)
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