– COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS – CAIR
Council on American-Islamic Relations – C.A.I,R – is one of many political action groups/lobbies operating in USA and North America in order to represent a certain community in the North American society, to promote the status of the community and to improve the relations with the USA. Council on American-Islamic Relations – C.A.I,R is one of the most prominent lobbies that represent the Islamic community vis-à-vis the American political establishment and the broader American society.
C.A.I,R, based in Washington DC, was founded in 06/1994 by Nihad Awad and Rafiq Jaber, both activists of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), and Omar Ahmad. The professed goals of C.A.I,R are to “enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice and empower American Muslims”.
C.A.I,R has 35 regional offices and chapters in the USA and Canada. Many activists of C.A.I,R are involved in all kinds of Islamic charities. After The 9/11 many Islamic organizations abroad, which received money from C.A.I,R, were designated as Terror organizations. Many activists and the Islamic charities related to C.A.I,R came under strict supervision and overview. Some of the charities and many activists were indicted for financing terror although only few were eventually also convicted. Only five people with ties to the group or its leadership have either been convicted or deported from USA for links to terrorist groups.
In order to introduce the Islam to the American public C.A.I,R created, After 9/11, a “library project” which sold packages of educational books and tapes about Islam (over $300 worth per library) for donation to public libraries in the United States.
In 06/2006, C.A.I,R announced a $50 million project to influence the American media ($10 million per year for five years). The project should have been spearheaded by Paul Findley, a former US Congressman. Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal was supposed to help fund the project.
There is a controversy about the number of C.A.I,R’s members. Based on their 2006 annual budget report, the Washington Times estimated that C.A.I,R had less than 1,700 members and the number dropped sharply between 2001 and 2007. C.A.I,R denied this report and attributes the discrepancy in budget and membership to recent free and low-cost membership drives. According to C.A.I,R, some 10,000 people attended C.A.I,R fundraising events in 2007 alone. Also, the number of chapters has increased from 8 to 33 since 2001. Tax reports show about two dozen donors are donating $1-2 million total per year.
C.A.I,R is still drawing public attention when leaders and activists on behalf of C.A.I,R speak out in controversial issues related to Islam, Jihad, definition of terror, justification of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the USA support toward Israel.
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