On December 15, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) held their 12th annual convention at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. All in all, I would guess there were about 500 people attending. It was advertised as the first time a Muslim organization had held a convention at a Christian church, a point MPAC speakers made repeatedly during the day. I was also in attendance for the convention as well as the evening banquet.
“How many people in our community protested this?’ she asked. “When an imam tells a woman to go back to her abusive husband, nobody hears from them again.”
Raja also said, “I can count the number of shelters for Muslims on my hand.”
She also blamed the legal system for being indifferent to cases of Muslim abuse. She said when Muslims call 911, there is no response. She referred to judges who don’t give protective orders because “Islam permits it.” (in their view).
Raja added that the Muslim community has to address this and that the imams need to be trained.
Dustin Craun, another convert to Islam and community organizer was next. Among his memorable quotes was a tribute to the Dreamers. Thanks to them and our present administration, “we are about to give amnesty to 11 million people.”
The next speaker and the most interesting one was a young lady named Darakshan Raja from New York, who is involved in family abuse work. As she opened her talk a picture of murder victim Shaima Alawadi flashed on the screen. Raja talked of how the community came together when it was thought that Alawadi was the victim of a hate crime. But when it turned out to be a case of domestic abuse, “we withdrew”.
Raja went on to call domestic abuse the number one problem in the community.
She then showed a picture on the screen of a ten year old boy named Abdifatah Mohammud, and told how he was abused by his step-father for 9 months and nobody did anything. Then in 2012, the boy ran away from home but was returned to his family by someone in the community. The step-father then tied the boy to a chair stuffed a sock in his mouth then used a rolling pin to beat him to death separating his scull from his spinal column.
Craun was followed by two high schoolers, one a Muslim and the other a Catholic. They did a school project on attitudes of Islamophobia and said that MPAC helped prepare brochures for them to hand out.
There was a banquet and check out who was there.
Among the attendees at the banquet were LA Sheriff Lee Baca, Michael Downing chief of LAPD’s Counter Terror squad, at least one of his officers, as well as some of Baca’s deputies from LASD’s corresponding unit. (No, they were not there covertly. They were honored guests.) The principal speakers were Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), whose district includes Pasadena, Pakistani Consul General Riffat Massod, who received an award, and Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA).