The Muslim American Citizens Coalition and Public Affairs Council (MACCPAC) held its first annual conference on March 29th and 30th.
The conference, themed “Muslims in the United States: Helping America meet the Challenges of the 21st Century,” was held in Washington D.C. and focused on the rights and duties of Americans in the advancement of the United States.
“There is a need for a Muslim American Citizens Coalition as a bridge between the people of the Muslim community, regardless of which of these groups they belong to, and the government. We need that bridge...MACPACC is trying to do that,” said Dr. Sulayman Nyang, Chairman of MACCPAC.
The conference hosted representatives from several of the most prominent Muslim organizations in the United States as well as government officials. Among the attendees were Congressman Keith Ellison, Arsalan Suleman, US Deputy Special Envoy to Organization of the Islamic Conference, as well as representatives from the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
Sessions covered topics from “American Muslim Women in the 21st Century” to working with elected officials.
The first day of the two day conference closed with a dinner that showcased several prominent Muslims in government, including Adnan Kifayat, the Deputy Special Representative to Muslim Communities from the U.S. Department of State, who addressed the attendees.
MACCPAC awarded seven people they considered “distinguished personalities” for their community service. Among the recipients were Representative John Conyers, Paul Monterio, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and George Selim, formerly of the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. Also awarded was Farah Pandith, a Special Representative to Muslim Communities from the State Department, Imam Mohamed Magid, the President of ISNA, and Moon Yusif Sulfab, the president of the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, as well as Jameel Johnson, the former Chief of Staff for Congressman Gregory Meeks and MACCPAC Congressional Advisor.
A White House Briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building took place the second day of the conference and hosted approximately 100 community leaders from around the nation where representatives from government agencies encouraged the community leaders to utilize government provided resources to bridge the gap between Muslims and the mainstream.
“It was a good experience for Muslim leaders to go back [to their organizations] and say that they were received at the White House and interacted with representatives from different branches of the government through MACCPAC,” said Nyang. “It’s a big difference between sitting in Texas or Alaska or Kentucky and reading about it in the paper.”
Nyang said that though the Council is still in its infancy with the conference as a starting point, he hopes that over the years it will begin to establish itself as a nesting ground for other Muslim organizations who want to create a dialogue with the government.
“It’s like a seed. You plant a seed. It’s going to grow and germinate and then you are going to see it become more and more visible. When you put it in the soil, people aren’t going to see it but when it begins to grow and germinate people will begin to see it going up. Then it becomes a massive oak tree and when it grows over the year it grows massive branches and you have many birds building nests on the tree,” said Nyang. “MACCPAC is one of those trees.”