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Summary of MPJP National Conference, July 19, 2009

Crowne Plaza Hotel
Addison, TX

10:00 am – Opening introductions. Attendants introduced themselves to one another.

11:00 am – Beginning of presentations by MPJP staff members.

1. (11:00am-11:10am) – Spoke about the compelling need for American Muslims to create a visionary leadership in order to promote constructive engagement, conflict resolution and people-to-people dialogue, and to help create a powerful environment of diplomacy. A conducive environment charged with diplomacy could eventually marginalize or even substitute costly bloody military engagements. For that cause, we, Muslim Americans, should outreach to the American public and the civil society to support us and to work side by side with us. Most importantly, we must recognize the critical time we live IN and the situation that American Muslims are in today.  There exists a vacuum for dialogue between America and the Muslim world. A forceful intermediary could play a critical role as a catalyst. We, American Muslims, are the ‘common denominator’ of the two most vital and polarized segments of humanity. We must fill in this vacuum in order to bring about a new direction of constructive engagement between the East and the West.

2. (11:15am-11:20 am) – Discussed the dire need to change the public perception of Muslims both here in America and abroad. In order for this change to occur, we need critical thinking. We spoke not only about our core values of peace, justice, fairness and honesty but also how to put those values into practice. American Muslims are in an ideal position to become effective intermediaries that can promote constructive engagement and people-to-people relationships between America and the Muslim world. This is extremely important for stability and progress in many key areas of the Muslim world, and it is most beneficial for America as well. In history, an informal “Third Party” often played a key role in overcoming state-to-state confrontations or crises such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the peace negotiations with North Vietnam, the phases of Détente negotiations during the Cold War, and many others. Many conflict resolutions in the past took place with the help of non-governmental intermediaries. A visionary American Muslim leadership could play that vital role and help to change the confrontational situation between American society and many Muslim-majority societies.

3. (11:30am-12:15pm) – Spoke about being true to the country that we live in and being responsible active citizens. Muslims in America have a chance to make a substantial change in both America and in the Muslim world. But we must ask ourselves — how we can make this change?  History makes note that most major successful movements began with the strong determination of a small group of people who took a risk despite tremendous odds. We must recognize that the U.S. is not a monolithic entity. It is the most progressive and pluralistic nation of our time. America is governed by self-rule, and offers a powerful impartial due process that could be instrumental in order to bring about a change. If changes take place in America, changes would follow suit in the Muslim world. History is a testament to the fact that great transformations can take place after a nation arrives at a self-reflective phase. America appears to be in such a reflective state. There are compelling reasons for optimism now, as America can become an agent of change.

It is imperative that American Muslims should seize this great opportunity. In order to make this movement successful, we must follow certain key guidelines:

  • We must raise a united front in order to be effective in our endeavor. This unity in diversity is essential in order to help raise a powerful leadership. It is a quintessential prerequisite for success. We must focus on our commonality and our collective presence.
  • We must maintain a relatively low profile until we consolidate our leadership and come up with an effective agenda.
  • Financing a movement such as ours is a critical issue. To be effective, we must remain credible and independent. A source of financing with a conflict of interest can ruin us forever. We cannot accept financial support from any government, organization, entity, or individual with a conflict of interest. Therefore, initial seed money should come from parties and individuals who see this cause as worthwhile. After some time, a number of neutral foundations such as the Ford Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Stanley Foundation, and our grassroot support could help us create the momentum for greater work.

4. (12:15pm-12:20pm) – Discussed the vital role of both second-generation Muslims as well as  Muslims who have lived in America for quite some time.  The Muslims that were born here in America have a tremendous responsibility to change the perception of Muslims and the state of Muslims around the world.  American Muslims are in a far better situation than other Muslims, both educationally and financially. The PEW report exposed that 65% of American Muslims were born in foreign lands. These Muslim segments in America have a close relationship and understanding regarding these societies they came from, in order to help raise a leadership of bridge-building.

5. (12:25pm-12:30pm) – Spoke about the need for Muslim Americans to work on the national and international level to help bring about beneficial and productive changes for both America and the Muslim world. This may include advocacy and promotion of policy changes towards bilateralism and multilateralism with respect to Muslim-majority societies, instead of unilateralism.

Discussion Section/Closing Statements by Attendants

6. (1:10pm-4:50pm) Specific Goals for MPJP

  1. Consolidation of leadership through unity and the common purpose of our goals.
  2. Facilitation of conflict resolution and diplomatic involvement between America and the Muslim world.
  3. Dissolving Islamophobia through our work for constructive engagement and peace.
  4. Dissolving extremism, bigotry, and ignorance.
  5. Working with other major Muslim organizations, and not competing with them.

Officers

President – Ruby Amatullah

Vice President- Edip Yuksel

Secretary- Casey Ohanaja

Treasurer- Iffat Khan

Outreach officer – Mike Ghouse

Steering Committee: Ruby Amatulla, Matthew Cappiello, Dr. Iffat Khan, Fereydoun Taslimi, Dr. Edip Yuksel

Attendants at the Dallas Meeting

  1. Dr. Aftab Siddiqui
  2. Gazi Alankus
  3. Hossam Mansour
  4. Iffat Khan
  5. MB Ahmed
  6. Rizwan Sheikh
  7. Ahmed Subhy
  8. Chibuzo Ohanaja
  9. Dr. Ahmed Mansour
  10. Edip Yuksel
  11. Jeff Garrison
  12. Reem Elghonimi
  13. Ruby Amatullah
  14. Sadruddin Noorani
  15. Syed Ahsani
  16. Syed Hassan
  17. Tariq Jaffery
  18. Dr. Ashraf Abassi

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