The annual conference organized in Chicago for the past two years through the partnership of the American Islamic College in Chicago and the OIC under the title of “Islam and Muslims in America” have made an important contribution to the discussion of the issues relevant to the Muslims of America. In addition to highlighting the US-OIC engagement, these gatherings have provided a venue to have open and constructive discussion on opportunities and challenges for the emerging Muslim American leaders.
Islam and Muslims in America Conferences present a unique initiative bringing together the US Administration, members of the Congress, the OIC General Secretariat leadership, academic specialists and members of the American Muslim community. The first year witnessed the participation of the US Administration through the first and second US Special Envoys to the OIC, appointed by the US Presidents George W. Bush and President Barrack H. Obama.
The second year was particularly remarkable due to the active participation from the prominent US think tanks that enriched the debate. The speakers of the second annual conference held on September 17, 2011, at the impressive facilities of the American Islamic College (AIC) included the Honorable Secretary General of the OIC, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu; the Honorable Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; the Honorable Congressman Michael Quigley; the US Special Envoy to the OIC, Mr. Rashad Hussain; U.S. Department of State Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ms. Hannah Rosenthal; The Century Foundation’s, Jeffrey Laurenti; President & CEO of EastWest Institute, Mr. John Edwin Mroz; University of Delaware’s Muqtedar Khan; USIP’s Qamar-ul Huda; Columbia University’s, Dr. Richard Bulliet; Stephen R. Grand Fellow and Director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World of The Saban Center at Brookings; Mr. Gadeir Abbas from CAIR; President of ISNA, Imam Mohamed Magid; President of KARAMAH, Mrs. Aisha Al-Adawiya; Georgetown University’s Ayse Kadayifci; President of Muslim Public Affairs, Salam Al-Marayati; Fellow at Institute of Social Policy & Undertanding, Azeem Ibrahim; Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago, Ahmed Rehab; Chairman of CIOGC, Dr. Zaher Sahloul; Washington University’s Dr. Hayrettin Yucesoy; AIC Board member, Kareem Irfan; and AIC Board member & Director of Islamic World Studies at Loyola, Dr. Marcia Hermansen. The panel titles were: “American Foreign Policy & the Muslim World;” “Winds of Change in the Muslim World; Implications for Democracy;” “Islam in the American Context;” and “Imagining Our Future.”
During his keynote remarks, Professor Ihsanoglu discussed how one of the main objectives of this conference was to celebrate the achievements of the American Muslim Community and to highlight the long-standing ties between the United States and the Muslim World. Professor Ihsanoglu also praised the Muslim American community, saying “American Muslim communities are among the most educated and prosperous anywhere. In business, politics, law, media and community affairs, Muslims have shown their commitments to family values, community spirit and served as positive role models for all Americans.” He also urged Muslims across the globe to be useful and productive members of their societies and be the best ambassadors of their faith.