2011 Anti-Racism Initiative Recipient

Council on American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota


The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota (CAIR-MN) is the state’s only Muslim civil rights organization that serves Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim. CAIR-MN’s mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civic liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. With a primary purpose to assist victims that have encountered bias crimes, discrimination and defamation, CAIR-MN provides legal assistance and attorney referrals, legal trainings for employers, youth civic engagement programs, civic and media relations trainings for the community and more.

CAIR-MN recognizes that sometimes the most difficult part of facing discrimination isn’t the act itself, but the victim’s feelings of disempowerment. Some victims, new immigrants for example, are unaware of ways to make discriminatory behavior stop or even what their rights are as citizens. With their “Know Your Rights” training, CAIR-MN empowers American Muslims to combat racism by informing them of what constitutes as illegal bias actions and provides them with the resources to confront these actions with just resolutions.

Additionally, CAIR-MN provides Muslim community leaders with media training, helping these leaders to better engage the media and reflect Minnesota Muslims in a more positive way. They also train media representatives and provide a “Journalist’s Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims” to encourage state journalists to offer a fair and balanced perspective in their coverage of Islam and Muslims. CAIR-MN extends this training to elected officials and law enforcement as well, addressing issues of anti-Muslim bias and presenting them with its annual civil rights report.

CAIR-MN also takes a more hands-on approach by facilitating and mediating resolutions for direct complaints of discrimination. Cases range from women denied employment for wearing a headscarf, men being assaulted after leaving a mosque and Muslim students having food thrown at them on the anniversary of September 11th. Working closely with area law schools and lawyers, CAIR-MN assures victims that they will have legal presentation to combat crimes of hate and bias.

Through trainings and advocacy, the Council of American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota, has worked closely with Muslim communities since 2007. In its continued effort to act as a bridge for Muslims, also including Somalis, African Americans, Arabs and South Asians, CAIR-MN protects the civil liberties of these communities and offers an opportunity to strengthen the dignity and self-worth of Muslim individuals.

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