A delegation of 7 mosque leaders and youth leaders from Kyrgyzstan visited with CAIR-Chicago personnel on September 6th at CAIR-Chicago’s downtown office.
The delegation spoke of the issues facing the Muslim community in Kyrgyzstan and asked questions about the Chicago Muslim community’s dealings with their own issues. Members of the delegation inquired about the sentiments of the Muslim community towards terms such as “Islamofascim” and how members of the Muslim community reacted to the term.
“This is the fourth international delegation CAIR-Chicago has hosted in the past couple of months” said Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator, “these unique exchange opportunities are crucial first steps in gaining a unique understanding of the challenges facing the Muslim community worldwide. Interestingly, the issues are strikingly similar.”
With a population of over 5 million, Kyrgyzstan has a Muslim population that stands at approximately 83%. Despite the large Muslim presence, Muslim women in Kyrgyzstan are still facing the challenge of maintaining their freedom to wear the hijab (Islamic head covering).
“The image of Muslim women having difficulty getting a cab in the Philippines because of their headscarf comes to mind. The image of French Muslim school girl, Cennet Dogannay, who chose to shave her head after the French government adopted a bill that banned the wearing of the hijab in public schools, comes to mind. The image of frustrated women in Turkey who have to choose between wearing the hijab and pursuing a higher education comes to mind,” said Dina Rehab. “One cannot but stop and wonder why Muslim women worldwide have to fight for their personal right to practice their religion? Why must women in Kyrgyzstan forfeit their religious freedom in order to gain a passport or an identification card?”
CAIR-Chicago met with a delegation from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in Southern Philippines on June 8th, a delegation from Denmark on June 27th and a delegation from Burma on August 4th.
Present in the meeting were all members of the CAIR-Chicago staff, CAIR-Chicago interns, as well as the following guests from Kyrgyzstan:
Mr. Rakhat Diushembiev
Mr. Mumutjan Adyljanuluu
Mr. Edik Lau
Mr. Nurbek Zhumaev
Mr. Tashtan Moldogaziev
Mr. Kantemir Seidakov
Mr. Rafis Abazov
Mrs. Zamirbek Tashov
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.
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