Two Orange County residents will be honored at the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ fourth annual conference and fund-raising banquet this evening at the Sequoia Conference Center in Buena Park.
The council is a nonprofit organization founded to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America. Event organizers for the Southern California chapter said they expect more than 650 to attend.
Naziha Wareh, a Fountain Valley resident, will receive an award for community activism.
“She’s very active in interfaith programs in the area, which fosters an atmosphere of understanding,” said Hussam Ayloush, the council’s Southern California executive director. “And she’s also a pioneer in getting other Muslims interested in this kind of work.”
Cal State Fullerton junior Rana Elhaj Ibrahin will be honored with an award for volunteerism. Ibrahin has done clerical work in the council’s office as a volunteer for the past year.
“I always try to project a good image because I know I’m representing Muslims and Arabs,” Ibrahin said. “By doing that, I’m educating people about my religion and culture, and that kind of lifts the stereotype.”
The Council on Islamic Education, based in Fountain Valley, will receive an award for education. Led by Shabbir Mansuri, the nonprofit organization provides textbook publishers with access to Islamic experts who review manuscripts, prepare study guides and lead teacher workshops in an effort to eliminate Muslim stereotypes.
“This has had a great impact on every young mind in this country, Muslim or non-Muslim,” Ayloush said. “The new generation is not subjected to a biased understanding of Islam.”
Though projections vary, the council estimates more than 500,000 Muslims live in Southern California.
Keynote speakers at the dinner will be Imam Siraj Wahhaj, vice president of the Islamic Society of North America; Sheikh Abdullah Idris, director of the Center for Islamic Education in North America; and Omar Ahmad, chairman of the national Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Tickets are $35 for adults ($45 at the door), $20 for children; ages 6 and under are free. Call (714) 776-1847 for reservations. The Sequoia Conference Center is 7530 Orangethorpe Ave., Buena Park.