Updated April 25, 2019​ 

Sri Lanka Express

California State Assembly declares August "Muslim Awareness & Appreciation" Month

(SLE News) --The California State Assembly has passed a resolution declaring August 2016 as "Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month."

The resolution — officially called HR 59 — marks the first time any state has set aside a month in recognition of the Islamic faith. The bill, which was introduced by Assemblymember Bill Quirk, D–Hayward, and which was passed unanimously, applies only to this August, but Quirk’s Chief of Staff Tomasa Dueñas said the assembly member hopes that the body renews the resolution in the future.

The resolution states in part that the US " benefits greatly from the expertise, patriotism, and humanitarianism of Muslim Americans, who represent 10 percent of America’s physicians, helping to heal hundreds of thousands of Americans each year; who have long distinguished themselves as courageous and dedicated members of the United States Armed Forces, fighting and sacrificing in every major war from the American Revolutionary War to present-day conflicts; and who regularly contribute to the health and vitality of their communities, giving food to the hungry, sheltering the needy, and providing inexpensive or free health services, among other community services."

"Although the majority of Muslim Americans within California and throughout the nation strive to promote peace and understanding between all faiths, identities, and nationalities while upholding those values and principles that define the American people, they have nonetheless been forced to endure harassment, assault, and discrimination since the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and during the year 2015 alone, there were approximately 174 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence and vandalism in the United States. It is therefore appropriate to acknowledge and promote awareness of the myriad invaluable contributions of Muslim Americans in California and across the country, and extend to them the respect and camaraderie every American deserves; now, therefore, be it.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 8 percent of 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States are of Asian descent, and 62 percent of the Muslim population live in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Muslim liaison appointed by White House says he will represent Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs

(SLE News) -- The White House recently welcomed their new community liaison under the Office of Public Engagement, Zaki Barzinji, former Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Gov. Terry McAuliffe, according to The Huffington Post.

Barzinji plans to reach out to Muslim Americans, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Hindus working to ensure that the communities are represented at a federal level.
“A big part of this role is making sure the national conversation about these communities is not framed through a single lens, but covers the full range of issues that Muslims and other Americans face,” Barzinji, 27, said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

Previously, Barzinji served as a liaison to the Virginia Asian Advisory Board, directed outrach to Arabic American, Asian American and Pacific American communities for McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign, and was the former president of Muslim Youth of North America.  (continued below)
Zaki Barzinji

Other Muslims serving in the White House

Alefiyah Mesiwala
Senior Policy Advisor in Healthcare for the National Economic Council

Rumana Ahmed
Advisor to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes

Raheemah Abdulaleem
Associate General Counsel in the Office of Administration

Valerie Jarrett, the senior advisor to the Office of Public Engagement, said in a statement that, the appointment of Zaki Barzinji as the new Liaison Officer shows the Administration's commitment to religious pluralism in America’s tradition. The Administration has always lifted up the contributions made by Muslim Americans. They will continue their fight against harassment, discrimination, and attacks on community members. Zaki Barzinji's appointment comes a short while after Obama’s address at the Baltimore Mosque last February, where he acknowledged the widening gap between Muslims in American and other Americans and said that the Islamophobia that is rampant in the country now tears the very core of the nation.

Barzinji’s will be coordinating public speaking engagements for the Obama Administration in Muslim American communities to ensure that Muslim American communities are represented in the Administration’s work.  He is also expected to promote civic involvement within faith communities.

“I look forward to working hand in hand with my fellow Muslims and other communities of faith to build upon the policy priorities that this administration has worked tirelessly to promote over the past seven years,” he said.