While the primary goal of the dinner is to raise funds neccessary to keep the non-profit newspaper operating, editor Minhaj Hasan says its also a platform for education and inspiration.
"As an Islamic media outlet, we are tasked with bringing news and views to our readers which they aren't getting from mainstream media. Part of that is bringing world-class speakers who can talk about issues and events affecting Muslims," explained Hasan, who joined the newspaper in 2001.
For the last six years, these speakers have included investigative reporters who witnessed war-ravaged areas like Afghanistan and Iraq, US war veterans turned anti-war activists, and best selling authors who detailed how US conglomerates cooperate with the American government to strip the wealth of Muslim countries.
While all of thes e speakers were appreciated by attendees, they all spoke on issues that affected Muslims world-wide.
But this year is different.
"Our speaker this year is an investigative journalist who did in-depth reporting on how the FBI is using informants in the Muslim community. This is directly impacting our masajid -- how we operate and even how we interact with one another, the types of events we hold, and the speakers we bring. Th e very real presence of inform ants among us has cast a chill in the masjid, and we feel that loss of freedom and tranquility in what are supposed to be houses of safety and peace. So, this year the presentation is very important, especially for our leaders and people who care about our masajid and community centers," explained Hasan.
So important is the issue of informants that the Muslim Link in cooperation with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is holding a private luncheon before the evening banquet for area masjid leaders, board members, imams, and activists with their special guest-- journalist Trevor Aaronson.
"We want masjid leaders to really hear it first hand from [Aaronson] how the FBI is sending these informants to target our young people who are on the fringes of th e community -- many of them are frustrated and troubled. The informants work on these young people and try to get them involved in fake terror plots so they get arrested and put away for years in prison. Being educated about this dark side of the FBI's work should inform how our masajid interact with [the FBI]," said Hasan. "Our event is not an 'anti-FBI' event, and we know the FBI does plenty of great work keeping us safe, but here they've crossed the lines, and we have to expose that and call for it to stop," he added.
"For anyone who cares about the sanctity of our masajid and the safety of our youth, our March 30 dinner is a must attend event."