American Muslim Coalition Raises $10,000 for Backstoppers in Saint Louis
by Sheila Musaji
The American Muslim Coalition of Saint Louis is a recently formed group to expand on the local Muslim communities’ civic and interfaith activities through networking, cooperative effort, and organization. The coalition is dedicated to the goals of: increasing the active participation of American Muslims in the activities of our local comunities in Saint Louis and in America in general; increasing our visibility so that our voice will be more likely to be heard by policy makers on issues affecting our community; and enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between the Muslim community and the rest of the Saint Louis community. We are a coalition bound by our common faith and commitment to participatory citizenship. The coalition hopes to bring together Muslims from all groups within the diverse 70,000 strong St. Louis Muslim community.
The first project of The American Muslim Coalition was a Memorial Day week-end BBQ for veterans and staff at the VA Hospital at Jeffersons Barracks. About 210 people were served on that day, and the event was well received.
The second event was a fund raising dinner to raise donations for Backstoppers to aid the families of police officers and fire fighters from greater St. Louis who have fallen in the line of duty. This was held on september 7th at Grbic Hall in South City.
The event was opened with an honor guard from both the police and fire departments, followed by a group of young Muslims singing the National Anthem. Brief statements were made by members of the Muslim community as well as: Mayor Francis Slay; Missouri State Representatives, Jamilah Nasheed, and Harry Kennedy; Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith; Fire Chief Sherman George; representatives of Police Chief Joseph Mokwa; and representatives of Backstoppers.
About 300 people turned out for this event, and the Muslim community raised $10,000 for Backstoppers.
The common wisdom is that “no news is good news”, however, for the American Muslim community this expression takes on a different meaning. As wih many other positive contributions of the Muslim community to their local communities, this event was not reported in the media. Many positive events are either not reported or under-reported, and positive local news rarely makes the national news - this is a problem that we need to seek solutions for.
A recent rally to denounce terror in St. Louis was reported on in only one article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Is it any wonder that our fellow citizens look at even such positive developments with suspicion?
As Melissa Matos, the new Executive Director of CAIR-St. Louis said at the rally “Muslims need to communicate better with their neighbors. Muslims are an integral part of American life and this is our home. So why does this misunderstanding exist? It is because extremists are yelling while we are whispering, brothers and sisters, and no one can hear us. Be loud! Islam does not encourage hate or terrorism against civilians. Islam stands for justice and peace, and we must be the ones to carry that message, because no one else will.”
Melissa also said about the lack of coverage of this event: “On Sunday, August 26th CAIR-St. Louis hosted the “Muslim Visibility Campaign” rally attended by over 200 Muslims and guests. Muslim community and religious leaders spoke out at this rally to denounce any acts of terrorism committed against civilians in the name of Islam. Although all local media outlets were informed in advance about this event only two covered it. CAIR-St. Louis applauds the Post-Dispatch and the CW-11 for their commitment to giving St. Louis Muslims an opportunity to reach their neighbors.”
We are trying to raise our voices in many ways, but somehow thay are being muffled or not heard.