By Ayub Khan
The American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI USA & Canada) held its 22nd Annual North American Convention in the city of Brampton (Greater Toronto Area) on Saturday September 29, 2012.
The theme of the convention was ‘Our Youth, Our Future: Ensuring Their Success through Education’
The speakers at the convention urged Muslims and minorities in India and elsewhere to wage common struggle to attain a dignified status in societies.
The chief guest Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan (Member of the Indian Parliament and leader of the Lok Janshakti Party) in his keynote address said that Indian Muslims are not alone in their struggles in India.
He said that the dalit and other communities will stand shoulder to shoulder with them in maintaining the secular character of the country.
He pointed out that unfortunately caste consciousness, which is completely antithetical to the Islamic spirit, has also crept into the Indian Muslim society and that it should be weeded out.
Mr. Paswan berated the divisive forces in the country and said that India belongs to Muslims as it does to any other community.
He highlighted his commitment to raise the issue of discrimination in parliament and elsewhere.
He urged the Muslims in the country to hold their heads high and not to get scared by the prevailing anti-Islamic sentiment which he blamed on an international conspiracy to defame the faith.
Mr. Jagmeet Singh, Member of Provincial Parliament of Ontario from the New Democratic Party, stressed that as racialized communities and people of color Muslims, Sikhs and other communities face similar problems.
He offered all his support to the community in the face of any discriminatory policies and attitudes.
He said what is happening to Muslim communities today can happen to any other community tomorrow. Instead of breaking out in different silos all should work cooperatively, he stressed.
Ms. Dipika Damerla, Member of the Provincial Parliament of Ontario from the Liberal Party, said that everyone should be proud of their identities which can be more than one at any time.
She said there is nothing to apologize for if we are celebrating the amalgam of our various identities. She said that she is a proud Canadian who also carries with her a part of India. She praised AFMI (USA & Canada) for its mission to increase literacy and educational empowerment in India.
AFMI (USA & Canada) president Dr. Tajuddin Ahmed and founder Dr. A.S. Nakadar highlighted the organization’s various educational projects and their impact on raising the status of Indian Muslims.
Other speakers who spoke at various sessions of the convention include Ms. Aseefa Sarang (convention chairperson), Dr. Imbesat Daudi (Maine), Dr. Qutbuddin (Indiana), Dr. Aslam Abdullah (Las Vegas), Dr. Sana Uddin (Indiana), Mr. Mark Persaud (Toronto), Shaikh Abdullah Idris Ali (Secretary General of Islamic Society of North America-Canada), Dr. Azeemuddin (Texas), Imam Abdul Hai Patel (Toronto), Mr. Taha Ghayyur (Toronto), Mr. Jamal Khan (Toronto), Dr. Husain Nagamia (Florida), Mr. Wasi Nomani (Lawyer at the Supreme Court Of India), Mr. Ali Quraishi (New Mexico), and Dr. Shakir Mukhi (New York) among others.
At the convention AFMI (USA & Canada)’s Pride of India Award was given to Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan.
Ten Awards of Excellence & Appreciation were given to local volunteers, community leaders and others who are making positive impact in their communities.
The awardees include Dr. Tajuddin Ahmed (for his philanthropic activities and for promoting AFMI’s mission, Imam Hamid Slimi (for promoting interfaith dialogue), Mrs. Rabia Khedr (for advocating access to the disabled and for promoting diversity in workplace), Mr. Jawaid Danish (for promoting Urdu language and literature), Imam Nafis Bhayat (for promoting positive values among the youth), Mr. Zeib Jeeva (for his philanthropic and charitable activities), Mr. Taha Ghayyur (for promoting Muslim arts and culture), Mr. Laik Ali Khan (for philanthropy), Dr. Cassim Degani (for his volunteer medical services around the world), and Mr. Husain Bhayat (for his educational and charitable activities in Canada and India).
Scholarships were also handed out to three deserving Toronto area students.
The family and friends of the late Abdul Gaffar Sheikh, a prominent member of AFMI (USA & Canada) also launched a scholarship in his name at the convention.